We live in a new age. A cell phone rings and we all look down to see if it’s ours. Apps gain popularity one day and are forgotten the next. Your children may have been addicted to Trivia Crack but their latest obsession is Candy Crush Saga. The connectivity children now have can be worrisome to parents, and rightfully so. Who are they talking to? Sexting is a thing?!
But, you’re educated and prepared and have talked to your kids about the dangers (and crazy people) that lurk on the web. If you’re observant, you’ll likely notice that cell phones are rarely out of reach. Actually, they’re usually glued to the hand. And that can be downright annoying: At the dinner table, when you’re trying to talk to them, in the car. Taking away your daughter’s cell phone will probably end in World War III, so here are some creative ways to keep technology at bay.
Activate parental controls. Mobile phone companies such as Verizon allow you to activate parental controls that range from setting usage restrictions during school hours to blocking various content. You can set time restrictions when your kids are at home, too! Set a usage restriction for whenever the family meals take place, and your kids won’t receive messages or calls (unless the person is a “Trusted Contact”) and also won’t get notifications from Facebook or other apps! There are also a range of apps that allow the same parental controls.
Set a good example. Kids model their behavior after what they watch their parents do. If you put down your phone and grab a board game, your kids will be more willing to follow suit. Monitor how often you pick up your phone to scroll through emails or messages.
Fill time with another activity. Simply taking away their cell phones won’t always work. Many people check their phones out of habit or boredom. Change that by making them active and letting them be social! Playing a game of soccer outside for an hour will fill that boredom with exercise and a little competition. Find ways to divert their attention away from the screen and toward something active, such as a bike ride, jumping rope or tossing frisbee!
Play “phone stack.” This is a great trick to employ for meal times. Everyone stacks their phones on top of each other in the middle of the table, face down. The first one to grab their phone has to wash the dishes and complete all after-meal duties.
You set the four-number passcode. Simply setting the four-number passcode yourself should do the trick to keep their anxious fingers at bay. You can turn the passcode off when they’ll be away from you so they can make calls and send messages as needed.
Check in to tuck in. Have your kids charge the phone in another room before hitting the hay: Your kid’s sleep isn’t disrupted, they won’t scroll for hours and they’ll get the 8-9 hours of sleep they need to perform in school. By having your kids charge their phones in different rooms other than their bedrooms, they won’t feel obligated to respond to messages or calls from friends late at night. Click here for more info.
Lastly, your best bet is talking to your kids about technology usage. Talk to him about how his brain is still developing, and craves activities that will help him learn. Keep in mind that too much sensory stimulation can be detrimental to his developing brain, so employing tricks to cut back on how often he stares at a screen is never a bad thing!
>> Check out this list of the best apps for toddlers!