How many of you worry about technology, devices, and what and how much your kids are being exposed to? I know that I do for sure! It seems like there are new apps, devices, games, YouTube channels, and ________ (fill in the blank with a hundred other things) coming out everyday and it is hard to keep up! Our kids are growing up in a world where these types of things are a part of their culture and their everyday life. As parents we really need our own technology tools to help keep our kids not only safe from internet filth, but also to provide boundaries for them. My kids would definitely sit and watch Kids YouTube for 3 hours if I would let them!
This Forbe’s article gives a good summary of the AAP’s updated media recommendations, but here they are broken out:
- Media is just another environment. Children do the same things they have always done, only virtually. Like any environment, media can have positive and negative effects.
- Parenting has not changed. The same parenting rules apply to your children’s real and virtual environments. Play with them. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know their friends and where they are going with them.
- Role modeling is critical. Limit your own media use, and model online etiquette. Attentive parenting requires face time away from screens.
- We learn from each other. Neuroscience research shows that very young children learn best via two-way communication. “Talk time” between caregiver and child remains critical for language development. Passive video presentations do not lead to language learning in infants and young toddlers. The more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g., a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling). Optimal educational media opportunities begin after age 2, when media may play a role in bridging the learning achievement gap.
- Content matters. The quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.
- Curation helps. More than 80,000 apps are labeled as educational, but little research validates their quality. An interactive product requires more than “pushing and swiping” to teach. Look to organizations like Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) that review age-appropriate apps, games and programs.
- Co-engagement counts. Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Play a video game with your kids. Your perspective influences how your children understand their media experience. For infants and toddlers, co-viewing is essential.
- Playtime is important. Unstructured playtime stimulates creativity. Prioritize daily unplugged playtime, especially for the very young.
- Set limits. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Does your child’s technology use help or hinder participation in other activities?
- It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are integral to adolescent development. Social media can support identity formation. Teach your teen appropriate behaviors that apply in both the real and online worlds. Ask teens to demonstrate what they are doing online to help you understand both content and context.
- Create tech-free zones. Preserve family mealtime. Recharge devices overnight outside your child’s bedroom. These actions encourage family time, healthier eating habits and healthier sleep.
- Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes using media. These can be teachable moments if handled with empathy. Certain aberrations, however, such as sexting or posting self-harm images, signal a need to assess youths for other risk-taking behaviors.
When we started looking for something that would help us manage the technology in our house, we came up with these things that are important:
- Sets Time Limits
- Has Filtering Capability
- Manages Multiple Devices
- Simple to Use
- No Extra Fees/Subscriptions
We found the PERFECT fit for our family and wanted to share it with you. It is called the Circle. A tiny white box that gives you peace of mind. For me anytime a product or service takes something off my plate – it is worth its weight in gold!
So let’s talk about what this actually does for you. And how, if you are anything like me, you will tell your husband to scratch the jewelry for your next Birthday/Mother’s Day/Anniversary and give me something that will make my life easier!
Set Time Limits
This is one of the biggest challenges we have. It is easy to tell your kids they only have a certain about of time on their device, but then you get busy doing things, forget, or have to have a fight when it is time to turn it off! Whether it’s on a tablet or a smartphone, Circle keeps track of how long your kids spend online whenever a time limit is set. Circle will add up the time between each device so that 1 hour actually means 1 hour!
This is one of the features that really puts my mind at ease. The coolest thing about this, is that you can set individual filter levels for each family member that matches their age and interests. Do it once and it will apply to every one of their devices. My 7 year old can view different things than I want my 3 year old viewing. And it is automatic!
Manage Multiple Devices from your Phone
If the device is connected to your Wi-Fi, Circle sees it and allows you to manage it. Whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or smart TV, Circle has you covered without any software needed on any of those devices. Saves you SO much time trying to install things on every device, and figure them all out!
Pause the Internet
Maybe it is homework time, dinner time, chore time – whatever it is, you can actually pause the internet. Every family member has their own pause button for them and their devices. Give your kids a distraction-free chore time or homework time by simply pressing the pause button. It’s also just as easy to unpause when you want them to reconnect.
We have LOVED having the Circle in our home. It has really helped us to set the boundaries we feel like help our kids with screen time. Sure, setting boundaries can definitely be done without the help of more technology, but isn’t it awesome that we have it available? We think it is incredible that we can take advantage of these incredible advances in technology that are created to help parents with the challenges that our parents didn’t have to face raising their kids. Sometimes it feels like we need ALL the help we can get, and this is one way that has really helped our family. If you want to learn more about the Circle, its features, price, and everything it has to offer –