With a recent survey conducted by Brookman Solicitors revealing an overwhelming 75% of respondents are attributing technology and social media to have a negative effect on their relationships, we can only imagine what effect this is having on our children! How often have you seen a toddler playing on their parent's phone or even owning their own iPad?
Children’s first years of development are the most important and as their behaviours are learnt through observation of the world around them, this explains why as a parent your technology addiction may be leading your child down a technology dependent path.
Here are five tips to help manage your child’s technology use and stop the inevitable tears that come with denying a three-year-old an iPad.
1) Set screen time guidelines
It is highly recommended with young children that you provide clear guidelines and rules of when and how they are allowed to use technology, this saves any confusion or pushing of boundaries. Furthermore, make sure it is clear to your child what repercussions they face if they disobey the guidelines, that way they are aware of what may happen should they not follow the technology rules and will be less likely to go against your wishes.
2) Encourage outdoor play
It is not healthy for a child to be trapped indoors all day glued to their gadgets, which is why you should actively encourage alternatives to technology such as outdoor play. Simple games such as hide and seek, hopscotch, riding a bike or flying a kite will help keep your kids busy and active without the need to reach for technology.
3) Keep technology out of reach
Of course, technology is a great medium for your child to learn and keeps your little one busy when required such as on a flight, however too much tech time where it begins to act as an e-babysitter can be detrimental to your child’s health and development. For example, the lack of social interaction and eye strain from staring at a screen day are two risks caused simply by too much technology. This is why we suggest you remove the temptation of technology and keep electronics out of reach most of the day.
4) Utilise parental technology controls
Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and due to the risks of the web, it is recommended you set up parental technology controls on the devices your child uses. Also depending on your child’s age, ensure that you let your little one know that there are risks on the internet and make sure you know your child’s passwords and account names so you can monitor their online activity.
5) Most importantly, set a good example
As aforementioned children learn through observation, therefore inevitably they will learn and copy your behaviours as they spend the most time out of everyone with their parents. From an early age, you should set a good example to your children, if they constantly see you addicted to technology with your phone out at the dinner table or with your laptop out before bed they will instinctively pick up on your behaviours which can start a path to technology dependency. Your child will not understand why it is one rule for you and one rule for them in terms of technology at such an early stage in their cognitive development.
*The online survey was conducted with 1006 married individuals, based in the US, during April 2018. The couples were asked 10 questions relating to their marriage, relationship challenges, solutions, technology and how social media plays in relationship breakdown.
Brookman is a highly regarded specialist divorce and family law firm that advises clients in the UK and internationally. Brookman is ranked by the Legal 500 and has been awarded the Law Society’s quality mark, Lexcel. For more information visit www.brookman.co.uk.