, Salem, MA


January 31, 2014

School vacations can be more work with technology to manage

Many kids ramped up their tech use during the two-week school vacation last month. In only three weeks, they will be out of school again for a week. If kids already have difficulty limiting technology, how can parents manage this during the upcoming break when kids will have more idle time?

On average, children use technology seven hours a day, but what about when they are snowed in, or it’s too cold to do anything, or the novelty of new toys makes them even more addictive? If you are a parent who is wondering about your choices for allowing tech in your house, you’re not alone. What’s the alternative, you may ask? It’s not realistic to limit all tech — even kids over 6 are exposed in school through computer learning games, technology class and reading e-books on classroom Nooks. And now that it’s winter, parents have the additional challenge of keeping kids busy during the snowy, cold winter, when kids are really apt to use technology, not seven hours a day, but 24/7. On snow days especially, children may argue that gaming, Skyping or using FaceTime, or using the video app Snapchat are the only way they can communicate with their friends. Parents need to be prepared.

What is realistic in terms of curbing technology in kids?

Be prepared:

Ask yourself how good you are at setting limits. I’m very good at limit-setting, but even I struggle with tech. For me, winter is a time when it’s more difficult to get the kids out. I hear, “What else can we do?” and see the big eyes yearning just to “be on tech with my friends.”

Rehearse your plan and enlist the support of other like-minded adults to help you stick by your plan when you feel worn out or at risk of backing down. Waffling will only reinforce that you are a pushover when it comes to setting tech limits.

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