October 14, 2013

Technology and Education: The Rules

The older my daughter gets, the more technology becomes a part of her life. Before I was a parent, I was convinced that we'd have a tech-free environment 24/7, but the reality is that's just not practical! Our society is full of technological innovations that can be great for our kids, but they have to be used in moderation. As we've attempted to find some sort of balance, I've discovered a few "rules" that have worked for us. 

Know what your kids are doing 

I believe that this should always be a rule when it comes to technology. With the unlimited access there is online and even on TV, we should make sure that we know what our kids are doing when they are using these things. Whether it means spending that time with them, keeping parental controls on, or keeping the computer or TV in a public place, the only way we can ensure that our kids aren't being exposed to the bad stuff is making sure we are aware of what is going on. 

Apply the concepts from the technology to everyday life

Whether your kid learned about the letter "A" on Sesame Street, was playing a counting game on the iPad, or watched a video about animals on YouTube, make sure you are taking those concepts and applying them in their lives. There is learning to be done, but it can only happen if we as parents work to continue it after everything is powered down. When you're aware of what your kids are doing, you can easily see what ideas you can reinforce. It can be as simple as pointing out objects that start with "A" on your drive to run errands or even to have your child recall what they learned earlier that day. Stay involved and don't think that technology will teach your child for you!

Expand on the concepts

Once you've approached the concepts that the tech taught your kids, you can expand on it! If they watched a video about lions, talk about the other animals that live in Africa. If they played a game that involved counting to ten, help them count to twenty! The technology can be a take-off point to learn so many new and wonderful things, and can develop your child's passion for learning that you can then help to grow. 

Try to be involved when your kids use technology

If you have the time, sit with your child and be involved when they use technology. This will help you know what they're doing, but it will also show you what they understand and what they struggle with. You can also be there when your child has questions and explain new things to them. Being there allows using technology to be something that you and your kid do together, instead of something that babysits your child. (Although sometimes it becomes the babysitter, which...no one's judging. Promise. :-) )

Find a balance

There is no problem with setting limits, even when the tech you're using is educational. There are so many different learning experiences that kids can have, and it's important to find a balance between the technological experiences and everything else. Do what feels best for you, but make sure that you have a plan. Without a plan, things can get out of control, and you'll find that your kid is using technology way more than you may be comfortable with.

Set an example

This is something that I am always working with. There are not only a ton of tech options out there for our kids, but also for ourselves! It struck me one day that if I want my kid to have a healthy relationship with technology, I need to demonstrate a healthy relationship with it myself. That means finding my own balance, setting my own limits, and making sure that the time that I spend with technology is "quality time." When we set an example for our kids, they'll know what we expect from them. 

As time goes by, our family learns more about how we want technology to be involved in our household. I'm sure things will change over time, but I'm confident that these "rules" will help us address things along the way!

What things have helped you to get technology to work for your kids?

1 comment:

  1. Technology is such a part of my kids. I do try to limit the amount of time...try to. I have teenagers/pre-teens so it is so difficult at times. A lot of their work is done on technology. My teenager's school require that most work and contact is done on an iPad. So, it is a must to try to stay involved in what they are doing online.