Setting Limits – Children and Technology

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As the mom of three and a parent educator, I believe it is importance to teach and guide our children as they grow and gain new responsibilities and independence. Setting limits for children is a key foundation to teaching new skills and developing independence. Technology is everywhere and an integral part of every day life, even for young children. Because technology is so pervasive in children’s lives, setting limits for children and technology is critical for parents of children of all ages. 

boy looking at cell phone screen with snacks and cup of juice nearby

Take a moment and count how many devices you have that can access the internet in your home. I bet you’ll be surprised. I bet you have more than one device per family member, maybe even more than two per family member. Did you include your smart TV your device count? How about your child’s “toys” that also have internet connection? Children of all ages are able to access the internet easily and readily. As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our children how to use technology safely and responsibly and that means setting limits for children and developmentally appropriate guidelines. 

pile of cell phones, tablets and laptop

Setting Limits – Children and Technology

Consider Your Child’s Level of Responsibility – You know your child best. Consider her demonstrated level of responsibility. You wouldn’t give a twelve year old the keys to the car and you may not even give a sixteen year old the keys to the car. Every child is different and you need to consider what is best for your child’s specific abilities and situation. 

Research the Best Options for Your Child – There are many different options in technology, apps and parental controls. Take the time to research what the best choices are for your child, your child’s needs and your family. Don’t give into peer pressure or “keeping up with the Joneses.” Make purposeful choices based on the best option for your child and your family at this point in time. 

Talk with Your Child – Before allowing your child access to technology, take the time to talk with your child.  Your goal is to have an open and ongoing conversation with your child.  Focus on taking with, not at your child. Ask his thoughts about pertinent topics, such as online safety, privacy, screen time limits, acceptable apps and downloads, texting, calling, using social media, respect, bullying and being a responsible digital citizen. Engaging your child and asking his thoughts helps you understand his views and will aid you in setting appropriate guidelines for your child. 

info graphic in teal and blue about Smart Talk program

The Smart Talk, a free online tool, was created by National PTA and LifeLock to help families set your own, unique and specific ground rules for the use of technology in your family. Parents and children are led through an interactive, guided conversation via The Smart Talk tool that helps you engage and talk through different aspects of online safety, responsibility, privacy, screen time, apps and downloads, texting, calling, social media, and respect.

child working on worksheets with pencil

The Smart Talk tool creates a printable contract for you. Both you and your child sign the contract. Having a contract helps hold children and parents accountable.  

Be Clear About Your Family Guidelines – Establishing clear guidelines that everyone understands is key to developing responsible digital citizens. The Smart Talk agreement is a great tool to make sure everyone in your family clearly understands your family guidelines for the use of technology. The Smart Talk tool walks you through different aspects of digital responsibility and allows you to establish and discuss each guideline with your child. 

Periodically Review with Your Child – Setting guidelines and raising responsible children is an ongoing process. You’ll want to periodically review how well the technology guidelines you established are working for your family. As your child grows and becomes more responsible, you’ll want to slowly allow her more freedom in using technology. When you work through The Smart Talk tool with you child, you establish how often you will review the contract and guidelines together. The printed contract includes the review schedule that you established.  

boy looking at phone screen with drink and snacks nearby

What tips do you use in setting limits for children and technology use in your family? Be sure to checkout The Smart Talk website to create your own family guidelines for raising responsible digital citizens. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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  1. This is such an important topic. I think most adults haven’t quit figured out how to set healthy limits with technology, and the struggle is only increasing for students as more and more of their homework is technology-based or technology-related. I think it helps when parents can get kids to see this as something everyone is trying to manage, for quality of life and productivity reasons. Not easy!

  2. Some great tips, and that app sounds really interesting. Even though I work online, I think limiting our time on here and unplugging once in awhile is good too.

  3. I think this is so important. We all need to keep an open conversation with out children about technology. I must say, I have to have a talk with myself too. I find that I rely on technology more than I should. I need to turn it off at times and spend time with my family and myself.

  4. I really wish more parents paid attention to this. As a teacher, I hear lots of what goes on and the parents are always so surprised. Everyone needs to be a bit more proactive. It is not always easy though.

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