Parents + Tech: Teaching Parents to Monitor Screen Usage
Cornerstone Coworking member Jay Lowrance, owner of Lowrance Media, held a Lunch and Learn to help parents understand trendy apps and how to safely monitor how kids are interacting with them. As children are being introduced to more technology, whether through school or as they become old enough to have their own devices, parents need to equip themselves with current technology trends. Jay not only owns his own media group, but he is also a father to four children and personally experiences the need and desire to learn more about technology.
Parents face many challenges, like using technology as a distraction, dealing with social pressures, and the fact that adults are technology natives. Growing up with technology means we are more inclined to hold accounts or be familiar with current apps/platforms, even if we are not active on them. But as kids are getting older and technology is becoming more apparent in their lives, they are also starting to face new challenges. Now, instead of only dealing with social pressures to stay on trend with clothing/accessories, they are also hit with social challenges of technology. The age of kids owning devices is getting earlier and there are more expectations with it in school.
Luckily, Jay Lowrance offered practical advice to help you manage your kids’ technology time and even participate in what they’re doing. Jay mentioned “roadblocks,” “guard rails,” and “ride alongs” to teach parents the best tech-control strategies:
Roadblocks and Guard Rails:
The main differences between these two strategies is how much access you’re giving your kids. With Road Blocks, you are completely stopping access to certain sites, channels, and apps; with Guard Rails, you are easing their current access to mainly filter where they go and how much time is spent on certain areas of the web. You can block and filter content on multiple devices, like laptops, TVs, tablets, and phones. Products like Circle by Disney, OpenDNS, Qustodio, and Covenant Eyes are perfect for filtering sites.
As your kids get older and gain freedom to certain sites, it’s important to walk them through each one. Not only will you gain knowledge on how it works, but you’ll also guide and help them understand why certain areas/sites are dangerous. This even includes video games. It’s helpful they learn the differences between reality and fantasy now so they can establish that distinction in their minds.
While guiding their screen time is important, you also need to manage it. Because kids are starting to use more technology during school, they need to balance their screen time with other activities. The tactics you use and habits you instill in them now greatly determine how they use their devices in the future. Here are some tactics Jay recommends to manage their time:
Face-to-face vs. Screen Time:
Numerous studies support that too much screen time negatively impacts child development. From learning development to social development, kids who are overly active on their devices have a difficult time maintaining eye contact and learning basic skills. Allowing them to gain technological knowledge while also working on age-based developmental skills is best for their growing minds.
Blocking and filtering is important, but don’t be a computer Nazi. As they become of age or get used to certain devices, guide them in their usage to help them understand what is right and wrong. Giving them freedom to decide for themselves is more beneficial than completely blocking them.
Creation vs. Consumption:
99% of technology usage is for consumption, like streaming or playing games. Instead of always decreasing their tech time, give them outlets to create with their devices. Adobe Creative Suite is a great way for kids to learn things like editing photos, creating videos, and allowing their creativity to flow. You can also look for other tools to help develop creative writing skills, music composition, or just give them a tool for reading!
Walk the Walk:
This is the easiest and most common sense tactic: be a technology role model for your kids. If you’re telling them to limit screen time, then you do the same. Instead of using a Kindle or tablet to read, just buy books. It isn’t always clear that you’re reading a book when you’re on a phone, laptop, or tablet.
This topic is broad and there are numerous ways to go about technology usage, but we are thankful to have Jay Lowrance share his knowledge. He also recommended some of his favorite resources:
- The Screen Smart Podcast, Jay Lowrance
- Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World, Angela Santomaro
- The Art of Screen Time, Anya Kamenetz