Do the following scenes seem familiar? Your son wants to stay awake an extra hour to play video games; your daughter is glued to her cell phone, and constantly texting her friends; your child spends more time on Facebook than he does reading. Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, making it tricky for parents to set boundaries…
Researchers have now discovered why it’s essential for parents to place boundaries on their kids’ electronic use. Kids who don’t have boundaries with technology:
• Have trouble sleeping and get less sleep.
• Exercise less and are more prone to obesity.
• Do less homework.
• Read less.
• Spend less time with their families.
• Have a harder time making good decisions because of the information overload.
Too many electronics in a child’s bedroom can be a distraction. They can wake up at night because one of their friends is calling their cell phone, or the light-emitting aspect of electronics can keep them from getting a good night sleep.
Research also shows that kids—and adults—who use these items too close to bedtime have a harder time falling asleep.
So, in our home, cell phones get turned off and placed on the digital-charging station in our dining room. Our kids aren’t allowed to have computers or TVs in their bedrooms. We also set limits on computer and TV use by turning these items off one hour before bedtime.
Naturally, my kids have pushed back against these boundaries. They have friends who have the entire electronic setup in their bedrooms. They complain that they have to walk to the basement to use a computer.
Your child may be telling you that you’re the only parent who sets boundaries on technology usage, but research will tell you otherwise! One study found that 88 percent of parents agreed about the importance of boundary setting. The problem, however, is that most parents aren’t sure how to place boundaries without setting off war with their kids. Here are some ideas:
1. Begin by talking with your kids about how you want them to succeed. They need to eat well, get exercise, do their homework, and get enough sleep. You also want them to have fun and stay connected to their friends, but having access to electronic devices around the clock won’t help them succeed. In fact, the older my kids gets, the more I tell them about the dangers of being wired 24/7 to electronic devices.
Tip: It helps to have a place for charging electronic devices, a place outside of bedrooms. In our home, we don’t allow electronic devices in anyone’s bedroom—including the parents. (A lot of adults are suffering from sleep deprivation because of the electronic devices in their bedrooms.)
2. Talk about the benefits of electronics so that your kids will know that you’re not anti-technology. It’s great that the Internet can be helpful with homework. I don’t know how I would have helped my son the other day with dimensional analysis without the Internet. It’s great to stay in touch with a cell phone. It’s wonderful to be able to listen to the music that you want on your mp3 player. We love watching movies, whether they’re on TV, a DVD, or bought from the iTunes store.
Tip: What matters is to be clear what your overall goal is with your kids: You want them to grow up well. Electronic devices can help them get there, if those devices don’t rule their lives at all hours of the day. Successful people know their limits, and they learn their limits with electronic devices.
Tell Us: ——————> Do you have an effective technology boundary-setting tip? Comment below to share!
1. Amanda Lenhart, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr, Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults (Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010).
2. Sharon Begley, “I Can’t Think!” Newsweek magazine, February 27, 2011.
3. Sophie Terbush, “Glow of Electronic Devices Is Affecting Americans’ Sleep,” USA Today, March 7, 2011.
4. Scholastic, “New Study on Reading in the Digital Age: Parents Say Electronic, Digital Devices Negatively Affect Kids’ Reading Time,” news release, September 29, 2010.
5. Rasmussen Report, “Seventy-Five Percent Say Children Spend Too Much Time Using Electronic Devices,” Rasmussen Report, January 25, 2010.
6. Richard Wray, “Digital Kids Ditch Homework for Networking,” The Guardian, March 3, 2008.
7. NPD Group, “Kids Using Electronic Devices at Earlier Ages,” NPD Group, March 2007.
8. Technology and Media, Parentfurther.