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Five "Back to School" Rules for Technology:

Even Technology Needs Back to School Rules, Too...

As our children press through the grades, as they get older, more and more of their school work is completed online. Homework assignments, research, and collaborating with their classmates back to school rules for technology on projects are now all completed through the Web instead of at the library — like we used to when we were kids.

Laptops, iPads, Tablets, and mobile phones have become a necessity for tweens and teens today, they also can be major distractions.

These distractions can lead to harm (in the case of bullying), Poor school performance, violent behavior, sleep pattern disturbances and obesity. All of which can all be linked to an increase usage of screen time, particularly if you include the television. It can be tough for parents to determine when their kids are using technology for school and when it’s just for fun — and sometimes for both at the same time. No kid wants their mom or dad looming over their shoulders all the time.

So what can a parent do to secure their child stays on track now that school is back in session? 

Set limits on accessibility to online access and other electronics. Most kids have a hard time resisting the urge to respond to a text or social media comment regardless of when it is received, and some teens are on their phones at all hours of the night. In fact, 24/7 accessibility to a cell phone or other electronics can severely impact the quality and quantity of sleep your child gets. Some teens think browsing social media or the Web helps them relax before bed, but usually it is the exact opposite. Insist your child charges their device in another room during the time in which they should be asleep. Take it a step farther by reducing usage during meal times or other family events as well.

 Control the wireless. It’s hard to go anywhere in today’s world where you can’t access Wi-Fi, but parents still have the upper hand when it comes to their own home. If you find your child is getting distracted by technology, change your Wi-Fi codes daily to ensure he completes what he needs to finish at home before going online. Some parents make sure their kids complete certain chores or finish non-technology school assignments prior to getting the codes for the day. Not technologically savvy? Just unplug or move the wireless router when you don’t want it in use.

Monitor Internet usage. There is a fine line between prying, spying and monitoring your child’s online activity as your child gets older, and it is really a family choice in regards to how involved you want to be in your son or daughter’s online world; but at the minimum, parents should find a monitoring tool that gauges how much time your child is spending online, on social media sites, and texting. Teenagers often respond better to setting limits when you explain why too much screen time or exposure to certain media content is harmful (For Example”, too much social media can lower self-esteem or overexposure to violent video games can increase aggression), it is advisable to share why you are concerned and how much time they are actually spending on their electronic devices.  There is a good chance they are surprised.

Discourage multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is difficult for anyone, but for tweens and teens whose brains are not yet fully developed, it is a bad habit to start (and even more difficult to break). Discourage the use of too many electronic devices at the same time. Watching a movie? Put the iPad down. Researching information online? Take the headphones off. Doing homework? Turn off the phone. The less distractions available, the more efficient and effective your child will be at the task at hand.

Model good behavior. No matter how tempted we are to check e-mail, the latest text, Facebook, or whatever social media we have, it is important to show our kids that the “always on” world of technology isn’t healthy for our brains, as children or adults.  Your kids are still watching your behavior even though it’s not always obvious, it will eventually show in their behavior When you make rules for electronics for the kids, try to follow them yourself.  And the old adage’, “I make the rules, I can break the rules” is not good parenting…

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