We all have made mistakes in our homeschooling. We’ve made mistakes parenting. We’ve also made mistakes with technology. We’re not perfect so it stands to reason that we’ll make a mistake somewhere down the line.
There are, however, mistakes I see parents make with technology quite often. These mistakes can lead to big problems in the future. Hopefully this will help you prevent these mistakes in your own home.
Not knowing how to use the tech you give to your kids
If you’re going to put a piece of tech in your kid’s hands make sure you know how to use it too. You wouldn’t give your 15 year old the keys to your car and tell him to “go for it” and learn how to drive. You shouldn’t do the same with tech. Spend some time going through tutorials or watching videos online from parenting websites. Many of these sites have tips and trick to you to learn how to use these devices safely. I recommend iparent.tv because they have simple to understand information about, devices, apps, and websites to help you decide what’s best for your family.
Giving your kids tech too soon
When I see toddlers and grade-school kids running around with smartphones and tablets I shudder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to occasional use around the age of 3 but seeing kids glued to these devices is frightening. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children under the age of 2 have no screen time at all and that pre-schoolers have limited access to media. The constant flow of stimulus leads to attention and behavior problems. Don’t worry. Kids are fast learners. They’ll pick up on the tech you allow the to use sooner than you think.
Failing to enable parental controls on the devices you give to your kids
This ties in with my first point. Many parents are unaware that parental controls exist. Some have heard about them like the rumored Heffalump but don’t know where to find them. A quick Google search for “parental controls” and the device you plan to give to your child will give you all the information you need to make sure your kids have a safe device. If you see lackluster or negative comments about the parental controls on a device, don’t give it to your kids, especially your very resourceful tweens and teens! Find out how to lock down that device and adjust the controls as needed.
Lack of follow-up or trusting parental controls
Once you’ve set parental controls you’re set, right? Your child has a perfectly safe device. Wrong. You need to follow-up with your kids about their use of their device. You also need to make sure the parental controls are working as expected. Don’t let settings on a smartphone or tablet replace responsible parenting. Have conversations about the content your kids are viewing. When they ask to install a game or apps check out sites like iparent.tv, Common Sense Media, or uknowkids.com to see if there is any questionable content. Just because an app is rated 12+ doesn’t mean it’s necessarily suitable for your kids.
Buying the “latest and greatest”
Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean your kids won’t be drawn to the hot new device on the market. Whether it’s an iPhone, Galaxy S5, iPad, or Xbox One your kids will one day ask for one despite all the times you’ve said, “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind!” You may even be tempted to buy the latest gadgets for you and your family to use. I can tell you from personal experience that a 2nd gen iPod Touch works just fine for playing music. Some apps still work on it too. Don’t get sucked into the upgrade black hole. These devices will work for more that 12 months as long as they’re not dropped, flushed, or flambeed. Buying refurbished “old” tech will save you a lot of money.
What tech mistakes have you made? How did you recover from them? Are you still staggering from a tech mistake you make years ago? Share you failures and victories in the comments below!
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Music for the podcast by Kevin Macleod.