As best highlighted by Tim Cook’s recent advice, developing digital literacy is crucial for our children in this day and age. At the same time, the dangers of child Internet use – cyberbullying, screen addiction, and online predators – remain real and concerning (1, 2). Combined with what we know about excessive device use and myopia from our plano reports, blocking potentially dangerous and time-consuming apps seems to be the best way to protect our children.
Yet, like taking away anything pleasurable in our own lives, blocking apps can prompt tantrums and strain the relationships we have with our children. Here are some steps you can take to alleviate such tensions in your parenting journey to promote healthy device use.
Have a prior conversation
No one likes to have things they enjoy suddenly taken away. Communicate with your child why you are blocking apps before doing so, and express your well-meaning intentions.
Moreover, children are inquisitive, and your child may ask further questions. Depending on their age, it is perhaps better to let children know and identify risks rather than be susceptible to them as a result of lack of knowledge. Ignorance is no longer bliss in this digital era. Having yourself as the source of information, rather than your child’s self-searched Internet results, can also allow greater control of what is being communicated to him/her.
Give your child a say
Empowerment is powerful in altering your child’s attitude towards a negative action such as blocking apps. When informing them about your decision, allow your child to have a say in what goes into it: Can he/she use the app on weekends, or maybe after he/she completes his/her homework? Another concession is to allow for app usage only when he/she uses it alongside you. If you are blocking an app hoping to curb a growing addiction, it is also empathetic to understand that an addiction cannot be stopped overnight.
However, be clear and firm with the agreed boundaries and consequences that are established at this point in time. This can diminish later conflict should your child, for instance, figure out your password restrictions or find a third-party software to bypass the app block.
Distract them from their device
Lead by example. You being constantly on your device, especially if using the blocked app yourself in front of your child, can spur his/her desire to throw tantrums to do the same.
Bringing children outside to engage in device-free activities is extremely valuable. There are a plethora of activities out there, such as going to the library, the museum, and even spending time with family, all of which can increase creativity and socialisation skills. The plano Shop also offers a variety of other engaging activities that can be requested by your child using their plano points when they engage in device safe habits using the plano app.