Confession: I am not a parent. So why in the world would I want to write an article about family friendly rules for using technology at home? What parental experience do I have? How am I even qualified to write this piece?
Well, when it comes to parenting, I’m not qualified. I’ve changed diapers, and I’ve watched kids for others, but never have I reared a child from birth to adulthood. However, as a 21-year-old caught somewhere in the middle between the youth of the world and those who are in parental roles, I know my stuff.
I was raised on technology, and I’ve learned from parents who had to adapt to a child who is living in a world run by technology. A question to consider: what are the rules of technology in your household?
Let’s see if we can answer that question together.
Don’t Eat Media For Dinner
In the book Fahrenheit 451, families sit around reading scripts out loud to interact with actors projected on gigantic screens — pretty weird stuff. Sadly enough, it seems as though this is becoming a similar reality for the world today. While we may not be reading from scripts during our evening meals, we are constantly interacting with various forms of media on multiple screens across the board.
Televisions, tablets, smartphones, laptops — they are constantly on our person. In the past, it’s been recommended that you shut off the television for mealtimes. Personally, and although I am one who breaks this rule time and time again, I would recommend shutting off all forms of digital media while partaking in a meal. Meals have always served as a common ground for people to connect and open up to each other.
Simply put, don’t let this basic aspect of humanity fade away.
Video Chats Aren’t Just Another Video
Skype, Oovoo, Facetime – all familiar names in most households these days. Instead of children asking, “Can Johnny come over to play?” we now hear “Can I Skype with Johnny?”
The problem I have seen with this — even with my own parents who are currently dealing with a fourteen-year-old brother of mine — is that parents treat the latter question just like any other form of media. Consider the analogy, though. Video chats allow for someone to visit your home without leaving their own. Your kids aren’t just watching YouTube or Netflix — they are interacting with a real live person.
So the next time your kid asks if they can Skype with her friend, think to yourself, “Would I let her friend come visit this house right now?”
If the answer to this question is no, then consider it when making a decision on the video chat.
Never Clear The History
I’m not saying that you should spy on your family, but I am saying that it may be good to have a general agreement that the family computer is to remain open. That is, anyone could check the history at anytime, but this doesn’t mean that this will be strictly enforced. Does this mean your home could become a tyrannical dictatorship in which all forms of media and communication is monitored?
But there’s always room for good dictators. It’s possible to respect your family’s privacy, and it’s also possible for them to respect the fact that this is a family computer. Otherwise, you might be a fantastic fit for the NSA!
Suggest Media Usage Times
You’ll see tons of blogs all over the Internet suggesting a schedule of sorts for Internet time and such. Although I used to be a fan of this in the past, I have been thinking that this may not be the best option as of late. That said — in this distraction-filled, option-heavy world — it may be good to offer time slots. Try this:
“Alright, you can use the Internet for two hours today. Any time between after school and bedtime.”
It’s flexible, but it’s also disciplinary. You may disagree on this one, and it’s understandable. However, I think it could work well depending on the family.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the whole “only by the book” way of doing things. However, the real world isn’t only by the book. Plans change, and when plans change, rules change. Apply this to your family’s usage of technology.
Is there school tomorrow? Meh. Maybe an extra hour of Internet wouldn’t be too bad. Has it been a long time since your kid recently saw their best friend who lives in another state? Perhaps a video chat would be okay — just this once, though.
Use your judgement.
That wraps it up for our family friendly rules for using technology. As a non-parent who is still a member of a family, I’d say these are fantastic ways to keep your family together and responsible on the Internet.
What other ways would you suggest to monitor technology use at home? Do you agree or disagree with the usefulness of the tips suggested above?