An Addiction to Technology
Combating the ever-sprawling and further-reaching world of the Internet becomes a more momentous task for parents each day. Children between eight and 23 years old reportedly spend anywhere from 6 to 7.5 hours online each day, and nearly three-quarters of parents have no idea what they are up to.
As a fellow parent, an educator, an administrator or school counselor, these numbers are likely jarring to see in print, but they are probably not terribly surprising. Given the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, we as a society and children in particular have a nearly never-ending access to the world-wide web, for better or worse.
The prevalence that technology has taken on does not need to stand as the final word as parents and other leaders lay down arms and let youth become bug-eyed zombies, staying up all hours checking their email and text messages, Facebook pages, and Twitter posts.
When the Sun Goes Down, So Too Should Electronic Devices
It isn’t much of a stretch to note that most of the trouble on the Internet begins after dark, away from the prying eyes of adults and authorities. We apply and enforce physical curfews for good reason; since virtual behaviors are the same, we should set the same boundaries. With a small handheld device, the whole world–good, bad and otherwise–seeps into a child’s existence. It is up to us to keep them safe by having an evening power-down, which might work best if the family complies.
Parents can treat a charging station like a hotel for all electronic devices, requiring a check-in by a designated time and will keep your teens safe online. If parents find that their children are sneaking away with their smartphones or tablets, a next step might involve contacting the family service provider and enforcing a night-time cyber blackout.
A Work in Progress
The most important thing parents can do is to remind children that they haven’t relinquished their parental rights to the digital world; if one tactic fails, we continue to figure out what does work.