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How to Set Rules on Technology with Kids

Updated on July 13, 2011

Kids today can access the internet almost anywhere with the use of smartphones and laptops. How can parents monitor their kids when they aren’t even with them? By setting ground rules and allowing them to earn more privileges, you can provide structure and safety for your kids.

Tips on Dealing with Technology

1. Don’t start with fancy cell phones.

If you’re getting your child a cell phone so you can stay in touch with them, get the basic kind. They won’t have access to the internet or a lot of other programs. There are also plans that block text messaging and downloading content or viewing websites for a mature audience. However, these only limit certain things so you need to be aware of what your child can and can’t do with their particular phone and provider.

You can set a time line for when they can upgrade to a newer phone with more options. This can be based on age or behavior or a combination. You can also let them know you expect them to earn the money for a better phone.

2. Set time limits for use.

For instance, they aren’t allowed to use the phone to talk or text during family meals. They have to do their homework first or can’t use the phone after a certain hour. Studies show that heavy technology users have lower grades in school so it’s important to monitor their homework. Often kids try to study and chat with their friends at the same time. Once they get sidetracked with Facebook or YouTube, they fail to get their homework done. However, the internet is often used as part of the homework, such as researching topics for papers. It may not be feasible to take it away from them; instead set limits. For younger kids, you could require them to do their studying in the family room or dining room.

3. Give consequences and stick with them.

If they don’t follow the rules, have consequences and then follow through. If you are going to take away their phone for a week, don’t give it back after three days. It will make your discipline less effective. Make sure you talk to your kids about the consequences when you discuss the rules. That way they know what to expect if they break the rules.

4. Review the rules with your kids and give rewards.

Sit down and have a conversation with your kids once a month or whatever is beneficial to your family. Talk about how the rules are working and what privileges may be earned. Give your kid a chance to tell how they feel and explain why you’re making these decisions. Let them have input even though you make the final decision. Allow them to prove they are trustworthy and can be given more freedom by increasing privileges.

Don't Be Afraid

Technology is changing the way parents interact with their kids. On the positive side, they are just a text or phone call away. On the negative side, it’s much easier for them to do things parents don’t approve of and not get caught. Rather than frightening parents, this should be viewed as an opportunity for them to find new ways to relate to their kids.


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