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Phonics, Phones, And Photoshop: How To Teach Your Children About Technology

We are living at a time when technology is everywhere. Tiny children learn to navigate iPads and use apps before they can read, teens are immersed in a culture of cyberbullying, and the internet places all types of illicit and inappropriate information just a click away, in reach of impressionable young people. As a parent, this digital era can be hard to understand and difficult to navigate.

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You can’t keep your children away from technology forever, and banning device use for too long tends to create a forbidden fruit situation, which is why it’s important to set limits and talk to your children about acceptable technology use. As your children grow, here are a few issues you should consider and address as a family.

Start Slow

Pediatricians generally agree that there should be no regular screen time for children under age 2, and that includes television, computers, and tablets. This can be a hard rule to enforce when parents and older siblings are regularly checking the news on their phones or watching videos, but parents should remember that the first two years may be the only time in your child’s life where you have this level of control.

The early years are also critical for all forms of development, so focus on providing your young child with an enriching environment through reading, tummy time, and play.

Keep It Balanced

As your children get older, it’s important to introduce them to technology in measured ways, especially since most will be expected to use tablets or computers in school. You can download appropriate educational apps and show them how to use them. Don’t buy them their own device, but begin setting limits by showing them what programs are for them to use and which ones are not. It’s important for them to learn that there are limits and to resist temptation from an early age – this skill will serve them as they get older.

Make sure to balance technology use with time outside during this phase of your child’s development. Take them out to explore, learn about the environment, and work on their gross motor skills. Those experiences are at least as important for them as learning to use a computer.

Address Problems Directly

The news is constantly reporting on the types of dangers that exist on the internet, and it’s your responsibility to continually address those as age appropriate with your child. With younger children, for example, explain how important it is to not bully others on the internet and tell them not to give out personal information to strangers.

As your children get older, talk to them about the dangers of sexting and how it can impact their future and about social media use – but don’t let the conversation end there. Make sure your children know that as they get older, they can still come to you if they encounter situations online that make them feel uncomfortable.

The particular risks of technology use will continue to change as new devices and apps come to the market, but your role as a parent will always remain the same: to provide your children with loving guidance and firm boundaries as they learn to use these devices so that they can grow into responsible adults. It isn’t an easy job, but then again, parenting never is.

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