Technology has played an essential role in everything from educating my children to keeping them entertained while I work from home. Nevertheless, I must admit I’d not quite realized just how much time they were spending connected to an almost innumerable array of tech gadgets.
I came to realize that tech had seriously encroached on what should be memorable family time when one Thanksgiving all I could see of my three children around the table were the backs of their iPads and smartphones.
At that moment I decided that I needed to disconnect my children from their tech.
The (Sometimes Surprising) Benefits of Quality Family Time
While reading about kids’ use of technology today, I came across a few pretty insightful blog articles about family time, and what I learned surprised me.
Family time isn’t merely a nice activity for all; it extends beyond a day out somewhere and goes way past the Thanksgiving dinner table. It strengthens the family bond, improves children’s academic performance, develops children’s parenting skills, and even lessens the risk of behavioral issues and violence during adolescence.
Kids and Tech: A Few Startling Stats
All of the above reading made for solid motivation to encourage my children to disconnect from their tech. And what’s more, I also found a few key stats along the way:
- 7 out of 10 US kids under eight have a mobile device (Common Sense Media 2013), a figure that has doubled over the past two years;
- Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012);
- In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction (Rowan 2010).
And so it turns out that I’m not alone. Far from it. But with this renewed realization, what exactly could I do to begin to reconnect with my kids?
Lost the Connection? My 3 Top Tips
In today's technologically driven world, it can be easy to assume that tempting kids away from tech, even for five minutes, is an impossible task.
But it may actually be simpler than you think.
1. Explain why the holidays are a special time--and reengage with your children. I found that at times such as Thanksgiving dinner, my children could sit through almost the entire meal without engagement from the many adults seated with them.
I decided to engage my children in conversation, and explaining why they were an important part of our celebrations. This, coupled with a rather savvy plan of round-the-table games (such as “Who Am I?”) brought about happy faces and plenty of quality family time all round.
2. Focus upon positive rewards rather than punishment. Positive reinforcement has been proven time and again to be the most effective way of nurturing a child, and so it’s hardly surprising that this applies to the realm of tech management.
The Kudoso platform makes this super easy: providing an answer for managing technology, but focusing upon mutual cooperation and positive reinforcement, rather than punishment (which, I can say from firsthand experience, makes for sulky children and very unhappy family time!).
3. Set tech times, and most importantly, stick to them. Solid expectations and predictable boundaries are an important part of parenting in general and tech time in particular. Tech time can easily creep up without you even realizing what has happened. Kudoso helps you hold firm to your tech boundaries by building in limits, goals, and rewards--and it enables you to follow through.
At Kudoso we’re pretty passionate about quality family time. And we don’t believe that this time should be defined by kids hidden behind the screens of iPads or too busy surfing the web on their smartphone to communicate. We’re believe in striking the perfect balance between all the good that technology can do, while also appreciating that too much tech can make for unhappy homes.
Kudoso: Designed by parents, for parents.