This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.
While at the zoo with my preschooler a few weeks ago, I almost got run over by a teenager who was attempting to navigate the crowds around the monkey cages without even looking up from her smartphone.
Less than an hour later, while waiting to buy the M&M cookie my son desperately wanted (and the iced latte I desperately needed!), we had to prod a young man ahead of us to move forward in line because his attention was on a text, not his surroundings.
And less than an hour after that, while driving home in slow moving traffic, I lost count of how many people—young and old alike—were wielding an electronic device while also operating their vehicles.
It was enough to make me wonder if my children even have a shot at not growing up to be screen-obsessed!
As with most things, of course, the key is to teach our children to find that sweet spot, the one between running people over because we can’t look up from our phones and eschewing technology completely and therefore withdrawing from modern life.
It’s our job to show our kids how to harness all the benefits of our digital devices without allowing those devices to be the center of our lives.
It’s a work in progress, but here’s my plan for raising my children to appreciate the power of technology without obsessing over it.
First, don’t demonize technology in black-and-white terms.
We’ve all heard the stories about kids who were never allowed a cookie after dinner or a slice of cake at birthday parties, only to go junk-food-wild as soon as they got out on their own.
Because they never had a taste of the sweet stuff, their appetite for it became insatiable.
Is there a chance something similar could happen if we ban screen time for kids completely? Possibly.
There isn’t anything inherently evil about our screens, but when we as parents treat technology like forbidden fruit, it makes it that much more tempting for our kiddos. Instead, we should be talking openly about the benefits and the drawbacks, and teaching our kids that it’s not the tech itself—but rather how we use it—that’s most important.
Then face the reality of your own screen obsession.
Look, I have vehemently defended the use of smartphones and other technology by moms. Most of us simply couldn’t juggle the demands of parenting without it—and that’s OK!
But if we’re trying to teach our kids to draw the line between enough screen time and way too much, we have to start with what we’re modeling for them to see.
So if I don’t want my kid to walk through a crowd with his eyes stuck on a screen, then I better make sure I’m not doing it myself.
Guide kids to the joy found in other pursuits.
Screen time is downright fun. Watching television shows, playing games, exploring new apps—there’s a reason these activities suck us in so quickly. They are easily accessible entertainment.
The joy that comes from exploring in the woods, creating an art project, or playing a board game? It doesn’t always come as quickly or as easily. But because of that, it’s also significantly more rewarding.
It’s often not enough just to get kids away from their screens. At least at first, we parents might have to put in some leg work to help them explore their other interests and discover the joy that comes from unplugging.
Include them in the discussion.
The number one parenting trick I see for fussy eaters is to include them in the meal preparation. Kids are more likely to eat food that they’ve helped make—even if it involves vegetables.
I think the same logic can be applied for screen time rules or limits. If kids are included in the process of creating those limits, they’re more likely to understand and respect them.
Maybe it’s asking them how much time they think is reasonable to be playing on an iPad (although they may very well say a gazillion hours a day!).
Or maybe it’s having them choose which household chores they have to complete every day before earning a 20-minute show.
Or maybe it’s asking them to compile a list of fun go-to activities to ease the disappointment when that 20-minute show is over.
As with most family rules, they go down smoother when they’re created with the kids rather than thrown at the kids.
But remember, you’re still the parent.
Ultimately, it is on us parents to guard against the habitual tendencies technology can foster in our children. It’s our job to keep them from being glued to their screens.
Until recently, we were pretty much on our own to figure out how to do that. Technology kept moving at lighting speed and we parents were floundering as we tried to keep up.
But not anymore.
I am super excited to share with you OurPact, a user-friendly iOS and web application that empowers parents to teach kids how to use tech responsibly—by guiding their habits and setting up appropriate limits.
OurPact makes it easy to set the amount of time your child can spend on the internet or within apps, and you can block or allow websites and apps with a touch. That means YOU can decide if and when apps like Facebook, SnapChat, and Instagram are ok for your child to use.
My favorite part of OurPact is the way it incorporates the ways real families function. You can actually schedule internet and app use according to your child’s daily routine—so useful!
And if you’re feeling totally in the dark about how to guide your children, OurPact also uses child research and professional expertise to provide recommendations on tech limits for your child’s specific age. What’s more, it can even tailor appropriate guidelines and tips specifically for each member of your family.
At its core, OurPact is a smart tool parents can use to encourage their kids to be responsible with technology. Because let’s be honest, technology isn’t going anywhere. So let’s teach kids to use it effectively—and keep their precious little eyeballs from becoming permanently glued to their screens.
OurPact offers an iOS App and a Web App, which means parents can manage children on either iOS or Android devices from ANY internet-enabled device (smartphone, desktop computer, etc.). Best of all, parents can sign up for OurPact for FREE!
Download the FREE OurPact App today and start your children on the path to responsible tech use!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OurPact.
What’s one step you’re taking to teach your kids to use technology responsibly?
iPad Air 2 Giveaway
OurPact is generously giving away an iPad Air 2! There are several different ways to enter. Giveaway closes on June 30. Enter today!