It is one of the most addictive items in your household and most of us, including our impressionable little ones are hooked. Yes, your smartphone is enslaving by design and the consequences of its excessive use are vast and severe, especially so for our children. These include everything from device dependency, to vision problems like eye strain or even short-sightedness!
Given its addictive nature, it is our parental duty to lay the groundwork for responsible device use for our children, and it is crucial that we do it while they are young. How can we effectively empower our children with the emotional maturity to understand the benefits and pitfalls of their smart devices? We’ve identified 3 steps to ease the process and to help you achieve your parenting goals smoothly!
Step 1: Walk the talk.
As a working parent, you may sometimes be guilty of bringing our work home – that means responding to work pings, from calls to messages and emails during dinner and family time. Even yet, your idea of downtime largely consists of scrolling mindlessly through social media, watching YouTube videos etc.
Unbeknownst to you however, your little one is constantly watching, their smartphone habits subconsciously being informed by your personal relationship with your phone. Fortunately, you can easily change the outcome of this daunting scenario.
Start by carving out some boundaries on phone use especially during sacred family time, including family meals, outings and gatherings. You can also vary how you enjoy your downtime. There are so many wholesome ways you can give your eyes a well-deserved break from the screen – read that book you have been putting off for ages, get a good workout regime going etc. Your little copycats will come to learn that there is more to life than just wasting it away behind a tiny screen.
Step 2: Communication is key.
For many of us, trying to delay our children’s phone use and ownership may be an almost instinctive measure we take to prevent any form of tech-addiction from developing. Counter-intuitively however, having the ‘tech talk’ from an early age is one of the best ways you can educate them about healthy phone use habits.
For starters, have a discussion with your child about their phones; something as simple as what aspects of using their phone they enjoy to more nuanced conversations about how they feel their phone adds value to or has detracted from their mental and physical health. The whole idea behind having such open conversations is to enable your child to gain a strong understanding of their device – with awareness comes the ability to self-regulate and the intrinsic motivation to use their phone responsibly!
Step 3: Fight fire with fire
One of the biggest assets us digital age parents have at our disposal is technology itself. These days, one such digital resource that many parents swear by is parental control applications. Perhaps the draw of such apps is the promise of a safe internet experience, with many parents welcoming the extra set of eyes to monitor their kids’ screen time and online activity.
It’s no longer just about control. Yes, the control aspect that these apps afford us is alluring. Beyond that however, most apps fail to get to the root of our children’s phone addiction – the lack of education and awareness. This gap is exactly what the plano application hopes to address.
Adopting a more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’ approach
Unlike the run-of-the-mill parental control apps, plano uses a rewards system which enables your child to earn points when they follow good eye care practices while they’re on their phone, effectively modifying their device habits. Using these points, they can request for exclusively discounted* items on the plano Shop, which offers a wide variety device-free products and fun outdoor activities that you and your child can enjoy!
Raising a child right especially in this digital age is no easy feat. Remember technology should only serve to add value to our little one’s lives. Education and awareness at an early age the key to ensure that they do not become prisoners to the virtual world that fits in the palm of their tiny hands.