How to raise kids in a technology world

Two young boys looking at phones
Photo: iStock

Children have many distractions in today’s world.

The distractions of the technology world can be harmful.

As I was walking into a friend’s house, I noticed that all his children aged 4 to 18 had either a phone or a tablet in their hands. The children looked up for a second and then went back to their devices. The kids didn’t engage with the guests or move out of their spots for the entire time I was there. 

Their father, proudly, spoke about how his children learned how to use technology and “play games” before even learning English in the United States!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against using technology nor denying its benefits. But I am firmly against the misuse of technology. Many people I know did not have exposure to electronic devices in the way that their children now do in America. Likewise, they often come from countries where the government had stricter policies on what was permitted to be accessed via the internet. These experiences are very different in today’s society. This post will briefly go over some of the potential risks associated with technology misuse, and propose some solutions to limit the risks while encouraging a healthy use of technology.

The risks of continual exposure to the technology world

Kids are continuously exposed to screens whether at school or home, and things are not getting easier to monitor.

  • Brain development/social skills
    Kids excessively engaged with devices during the brain development years can decrease the degree in which they can engage in traditional learning methods, thus creating more issues. Also, when kids are not engaged with their parents or other children, they are less likely to learn how to interact correctly in the community or school. Medical professionals also warn of the negative consequences that are caused due to the addictive nature of screen time.
  • Internet safety
    Unfortunately, the more time children spend on their devices, the more likely they will fall victim to bullying, inappropriate websites, or predators. Inappropriate ads will automatically pop-up and harmful sites can be accessed with the simple click of a button.
  • Health
    Physically, kids are less likely to maintain a healthy weight when they are spending too much time either watching TV or playing on their devices. Mentally, exposing kids to violence in the form of TV shows or video games can decrease their sensitivity to real life events.

Ways to limit the risks of the technology world

As a parent, you can guide your children to best use their time by directing them as to what is best for them.

  • Engage with your kids
    When appropriate, always talk to your kids about what shows and games interest them. In addition, never react in a way that will limit what they share with you. Help them pick what games to play and what TV shows to watch. Technology can be valuable. However, it does not replace the positive impacts that face-to-face conversations made on the brain and social development.
  • It’s a privilege, not a right
    Limit the time that kids spend on their devices or sitting in front of the TV. You can agree on times when devices are off and how much TV they can watch. Do not be influenced by hearing what “others are doing.” Just because your children might complain about the rules you enforce, does not mean that you need to lower your expectations. Stand firm in what your beliefs tell you about what is right and wrong for your children as they are under your care.
  • Bedrooms are off limits
    Never allow electronic devices to be in bedrooms to have better parental control over what kids are watching or doing on their devices. You can also monitor/limit their use of the internet by monitoring the internet usage on a specific device. Free software is available to try and prevent inappropriate content from appearing on their screens.
  • Encourage social activities
    Set times for the family to play or socialize together to give your children the opportunity to learn from you, continue to grow in their native culture and also to stay physically active.

In reality in this technology world, kids learn faster than parents in their new environment.

An additional challenge is that often parents are unaware of the possible risks associated with the use of technology. Take the time to learn what is happening in the world of social media and the internet. Screens and technology are all around us and they are not going anywhere. Having a good and balanced use of technology is the key to prosperous future for our children!

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.