“Step out of your room and show me your hands free of a cell phone.” The line every parent should not only know but use often. Those that know me, know that I am probably the least tech savvy thirty-one year old on the planet. I often describe myself as a seventy-five year old in a thirty year old body. Twitter? Instawho? Snap a what chat? It’s a good month when I’ve checked my Facebook more than once. I make all my friends put their phones on the counter when they come to dinner-I’m so old fashioned as I really love looking at people while having a conversation.
But let’s really get down to it. The first of what will probably be many posts regarding disconnecting from a connected world. Children, tweens and teens need to disconnect and they need you (yes you the adult reading this) to help them. There are a few boundaries regarding cell phones/tablets that I usually encourage parents to put into place.
1. A no zone for electronics. Maybe it’s the dinner table or a car ride home, but it is important to find, even if its five minutes, time to connect in a human way to kids.
2. No electronics at bedtime. “But I use it as my alarm clock so I HAVE to have it in bed” says all teen clients. Sorry, all phones remain in a spot like the kitchen overnight. It is important that all kids get restful sleep and the number one zapper of this? The cell phone.
3. Set time limits on days your kids aren’t in school. There is a good chance if you don’t they will be connected in some way from the time they get up to the time they go to bed-if they go to bed as twitter may have sucked them in by that point.
4. Be THE example. As adults we have to be good mentors to children. We can’t expect compliance and a good positive relationship with a child if we ourselves break the rules we set forth.