One of the viral pieces of news this week was the tongue-in-cheek site Please Rob Me, underscoring the potential consequences of broadcasting your location (such as, not being at home!) too broadly on social media. You know, inviting bad guys to break in while you’re Four-Squaring at the mall…
Well, right now I’m more concerned about a different kind of digital invasion. Namely, as parents – how do we encourage the responsible use of digital media by our kids while preventing “screen addiction?”
We still have 3 boys at home – 2 teens and an 8-year old. We have TiVo (so glad to no longer be subject to broadcast schedules and commercials!) and Netflix on-demand; a family iMac with all the usual web destinations a click away; a Wii; and each kid has an age-appropriate handheld device.
We’re really not big TV watchers, and my kids aren’t sedentary couch potatoes, but let’s face it – all this stuff can be an endless parade of sight and sound that is an easy default (instead of, say, walking the dog, exercising, reading books – all that boring analog stuff!).
Even Dad has to be reminded at times to put away his iPhone (ahem!).
Now, we don’t want to be rigid and spin out all sorts of rules and timetables and impossible-to-enforce schedules, but at the same time, we need to build SOME fences around this stuff so that it does not overwhelm us entirely. For instance, on the iMac, each child has an account, with a preset time allotment of one hour per day. But that’s just one of the digital conduits!
I’m betting all of you who are parents are struggling with this. How do you handle it (apart from, say, moving to Lancaster County and joining the Amish)? What’s working for your kids/family? Have you figured out strategies to allow healthy use without feeling like you’ve walked onto the set of the Invasion of the Family Snatchers? Please share in the comments!
(Image credit – no, not my kids, but very cute!)