By Katelyn Williams, Middle School Counselor, Greensboro Day School
Technology—we can’t live with it, and we certainly can’t live without it. Yet, what do we do about children and tweens living with it? I have never been a person who stands in favor of banning all screens from children because technology can help cultivate new skills and interests. However, we have to remember that providing children with new technology means that new levels of responsibility come with it.
Here are three tips to consider as you make these decisions around technology in your household.
First, do your research. Find out what other parents say about their children using certain devices. While the decision is ultimately up to you, learning from your peers is helpful. At a minimum, parents should understand the basic functions and operations of their child’s devices. We’ll probably never know as much as they do, but we can have a general understanding of the device. Avoid being blindsided by doing a bit of research.
Second, gauge their readiness. Each child may be ready for certain types of technology at different ages. One child may be ready for a phone at age 13, while another isn’t ready until 15. Maturity can vary, so there isn’t a “right” age. So how do we measure readiness? I measure readiness by assessing if a child can handle their current levels of responsibility. If they can’t, it’s unfair to add more to their plates. If your child is not in a place where they can follow expectations at home or school, don’t be surprised when technology expectations become another struggle.
Finally, establish clear expectations around technology and social media use. “Don’t stay up too late on your phone.” is not nearly as straightforward as “Turn your phone off at 9:30 and leave it in the kitchen.” Again, this is less about restrictions and more about setting your child up for success. It also helps to model some of the expectations you want them to follow. For example, if you have a rule about phones at the dinner table or tablets during family time, try to hold yourself to the same standard. Modeling the behavior helps your children see that you are upholding a value and not just instilling more rules. Explaining the “why” behind the rule will also get you, more buy-in. They may dislike the rules, but they will know you love them enough to try to set them up for success.
Whether it’s student health and well-being, or focusing on students’ social, emotional, and academic needs, the counselors at Greensboro Day School provide a support system for all students. Learn more about the entire ecosystem of support available at Greensboro Day School by attending GDS Discovery Day on January 22. Register today!