As a parent in 2018, sometimes managing our children’s smartphones, tablets, video games, and computers can be one of the most difficult things to do. How much time is too much? How do we control it while also giving our kids some freedom? Back-to-school is the perfect time to hit the reset button and start taking control of our children’s devices.
Start with on-device parental controls
Many smartphones, tablets, and video game systems have built-in parental controls. Often you can set up daily time limits, or even specific hours during the day when kids are allowed to access those devices. This is a great place to start. Have a conversation with your kids about the limits that are being set up. Maybe set them up together so there is a mutual understanding about the new limits. Once set up, these devices will often shut down after they’ve reached specific limits. The boundaries are clear.
Smart routers to manage the internet
Sometimes it’s not just about the device itself, it’s about managing the network connections that come with these devices. Smart Wi-Fi routers or separate devices like Circle with Disney give parents the power to control the internet for each device. You can filter the content but also limit the access hours. You can block internet to specific devices after a specific time at night. This will prevent those older kids from surfing the web at 11 p.m. on their tablet.
Old-fashioned timers (with a tech twist)
I’ve found that Alexa and Google Home are great tools to help manage our tech time in my house. I can tell my child that he only gets 30 minutes of game time but he is responsible for setting a timer and turning the game off when he’s done. He uses our Alexa to set the timer. I like this because unlike built-in controls or a special router, this forces him to be a part of the process.
Remember: there is a power button on everything
I hate to sound like an old fart but at the end of the day, turn it off! There is a power button on every device and if it’s causing a problem in our home we simply flip the switch. It’s a privilege, not a right. Parents get the power to shut things down when it becomes too much for our kids. After all, it’s our job to keep them safe and healthy, and sometimes too much tech can be unhealthy.