I was turned onto a story from Newsweek by Michael Hyatt and his Podcast, What the Internet is doing to our brains [and what we can do about it], a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued because this is something that I not only hear about all the time working with teens but my young children are consumed with wanting to play games watch shows and they expect they can do it whenever and wherever they want.
The Newsweek article can be found online under Is the Internet Driving us Mad? and here is a video posted there that sums up some ways to deal with how we use the internet.
Seems simple enough right? Unfortunately so many time we get wrapped up in spending time online that it becomes idle time and not productive time. This translates to interrupting family time and even work. The internet has changed so quickly that we have become the proverbial frog in the pot not realizing we are about to be boiled to death.
The thing that stands out to me in addition to the points in the video [I’ll list them at the end of this post in case you are having problems viewing it] is how passive people are about this. They joke about it and blow off warnings that should be taken seriously about how we use the internet.
So what does it mean to not be passive about how we use the internet and how we teach our kids to use it? I have 3 suggestions.
1. Set limits for yourself first. Modeling for our kids doesn’t mean they get to do everything we do but if we tell them they can’t use technology or the internet and you use it all the time, or worse instead of paying attention to them, they will find a way to get it. Ultimately what you are teaching them is you don’t know how to monitor but you don’t want them getting sucked in. What they think is if you spend that much time using technology they must be missing something.
2. Decide how to talk to your kids before an issue arises. The benefit to this is two fold. One, you and your spouse should be on the same page on limits, rights of passage and rules related to technology use in your family (Notice I didn’t say in the home. The rules should extend to wherever your family goes.). Two, you need to make decisions about cell phones and internet use before it becomes a battle with your kids. Many times we realize too late we gave too much and then have to battle to regain ground our kids believe is already theirs.
3. Show technology who’s boss. I have seen this suggestion so many times that I blow it off and most of my friends do too. That has to change. Take a day off from technology. Put the cell phone and computer away, out of site, and do something completely offline on purpose. This has numerous benefits such as being more rested, stimulating the brain, teaching kids how to not be bored and more.
How have you tackled the issue of technology in your home? What boundaries have you put in place to address internet use? What ideas can you share about how that has or has not worked for your family?
Here are the 3 suggestions from the video above.
1. Be mindful of the time you spend online.
2. Choose face to face conversation when possible.
3. Model good behavior for your kids.