Can we raise tech-free kids in times like these? And Do We Really Need to?
Can we raise tech-free kids in times like these? And Do We Really Need to?

There are a handful of parents out there who are proud not to have any form of technology for their kids at home. Lots of parents applaud the idea of having smartphones banned from the classrooms. I was one of them. After all, you come across a study every other day that says smartphones are a distraction for kids.  It’s the latest form of addiction for teens and it keeps young people from developing social skills since they are on their mobile devices all the time.

Technology is now beyond luxury

It’s logical to ban phones from school and I had made up my mind I am going to get my kid his first smartphone not until middle school. There is just one tablet in the house which I rarely let my six-year-old son touch. Often, I used to wonder if banning a smartphone is the best solution for my child. During my last appointment with a doctor, I was asked to check myself in through an iPad. That made me wonder if a person who isn’t tech savvy could actually survive in such a competitive environment of today. I had to bring my armor down, because today, technology isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity! Slowly, it is becoming a permanent part of our lives. How long can I keep my son from technology? Our kids need to be self-sufficient and as parents, it’s our job to prepare them for the world they are about to enter. Banning a phone and other forms of technology in the house will, in fact, slow down their ability to keep up with the latest trends.

What I need to do is to teach my son how to use technology in a responsible way. Making phones and other devices unavailable isn’t going to help. I am about to gift my son an iPad this Christmas. It is time to teach him how to be responsible with technology. This transition is not going to be easy because kids hardly play educational games these days. They will prefer watching “fun videos” on YouTube. After giving a careful thought to everything, I am planning to use a parental monitoring app to manage and supervise the way he uses technology. For now, I will monitor his iPad and as I will get him a smartphone, I will monitor it too.

When is technology a problem?

Long story short, technology isn’t bad after all. However, it can be a problem when it is coming in the way of your kid’s growth, learning, and even daily performance:

  • Homework: Sure doing homework sometimes requires some internet research but if it is distracting your kid from actually doing his homework, it’s a problem.

  • Bedtime: Researchers at King’s College London say there is a consistent association between using mobile devices at bedtime and poor sleep. Experts suggest that devices should be parked outside the bedroom before kids enter their room to sleep at night. Some parents make exceptions on the weekends which can make the problem worse in the long run.

  • Excessive use of social media: Social media can keep your child hooked to his device throughout the day. Posting, status, videos, and photos online can become an obsession. Plus, social media is a very innocent gateway to sexting, cyberbullying, and other online crimes.

    Rules, rules, and rules

    I say, if you are bringing internet and smart devices in the house, it is extremely critical to set some ground rules. This is exactly what I am planning to do in my house as my son grows older:

    Rule #1: Use a parental monitoring app

    Yes, you should and it’s ok to let your kids know about it. I have come across one app called Xnspy. I have checked its reviews and a lot of parents say it works well on iOS and Android devices. Using the app, I can monitor my son’s online activities, including social media, internet history, and text messages. What I think is actually beneficial is that I can remotely check what apps my son uses and for how long. And when I think my son’s screen time has exceeded the limit, I can also remotely lock the device.

    Rule #2: No Phone/Device Zones

    Set no-device periods for dinner and homework with no exceptions on the weekends either. For now, with the help of screen-time controls, I am restricting my son’s iPad every day’s usage to max an hour while he’s allowed to join the rest of the family for TV shows/movies watched together.

    Rule #3: Bedtime curfew

    No iPad at least two hours before bedtime is the rule in my house. You shouldn’t even be reading bed-time stories from the iPad. For older kids, make them hand over their phone to you at least two hours before their bedtime. Alternatively, you can lock their smartphone remotely by using any Parental app. No one should be allowed to use the phone when it’s charging. On the extreme end, you can also turn off the Wi-Fi after 9 PM.

    Rule #4: Social Media restriction

    First-time cell phone users must only be allowed to sign up on one social media platform at a time. Until your kid turns 18, you should know their passwords and logins, if they consensually share them with you. If you think it’s necessary to monitor their online behavior, you can even read their social media chats randomly but do let them know you will be reading them even if you are using parental controls on their devices that could let you do so.

    Rule #5: Punishments

    If anyone violates the family rules, there should be some negative reinforcement. You can either take away their device for a day or restrict their network data. These punishments are to be set according to the age of your child.

    The thing is, technology is not innately bad. If technology turns into an obsession, it can have adverse effects on children and adults alike. Banning devices isn’t going to work especially if you want to teach your kids how to use them properly. Whatever good habits you teach them, they will become a part of their lives.

I am a tech enthusiast, programmer and a sci-fi fan. I enjoy reviewing and researching new, innovative software that adds value to human life. I love writing about latest technology and trends, and have made this a full-time job.
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