As a teacher for the last 17 years, one consistency that I’ve found is that parents who monitor their child’s use of technology, had children who performed better in school. Those who didn’t, usually had children who were tired in class, didn’t turn in homework, and forgot materials. Again, these are simply my observations.
I am by no means a perfect parent, and I’m certain I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. We all do. However, I feel that if we make more mindful choices about how we parent, we can alleviate some blunders.
In a world where children are being bombarded with images and scenarios that are entirely too mature for them to process, we need to become more proactive as parents.
Here are my top five pieces of advice based on my experience as a teacher and a parent.
- Do not allow your child to use technology in their bedroom.
I’m always surprised at how many parents allow their children to do this. Cellphones, laptops, computers, should all be used in locations where parents can monitor what they are doing. Parents “assume” their children are working on homework in their room, but most of the time, this is not true. I feel the same way about TV. I didn’t allow my oldest to have a TV in her room until she was 18. For years, she begged and pleaded and said all her friends did. My reply? “Good for them!” TV is not what it used to be with only four main channels. Have you seen the content of some of these mainstream shows? No sixth grader should be watching Orange is the New Black!
- Make your child “turn in” their technology to you before going to bed.
My daughters hated that I did this, but I didn’t care. If you allow them to have these things in their rooms, I guarantee they will be texting friends or surfing the internet most of the night. I see kids coming into classrooms like zombies because of this. If they have homework that requires the internet, have them finish this work first. My kids had to turn in cellphones and laptops before retiring for the night. I know other parents who shut off their Wi-Fi at a certain time. I think this is an excellent idea!
- If you allow your child to use social media, follow them, become their friends, and know their passwords.
I don’t understand why elementary aged children are allowed to have social media accounts. First of all, the minimum age for most platforms is 13. You Tube is 18. Once you do allow them to have an account, it is imperative to be their first follower or friend. They need to know that you are watching everything they do and say. Not knowing what they’re doing is like dropping them off in the middle of Times Square, saying goodbye, and driving away. There are too many predators, cyber-bullies, and the potential for your own child to do something inappropriate.
- Give them time limits.
I’ve had students come in on a Monday without their homework, after overhearing them tell their friends that they had a video game marathon over the weekend. It seems that playing video games should be a reward for doing homework, getting good grades, etc. Why are kids allowed to play video games all weekend? Again, why do they have these things in their bedrooms? Do you think they’re actually sleeping?
- Be a parent and a friend.
I see too many parents who haven’t built up a solid relationship with their child. They don’t talk to them, question them, and see how they feel. There’s a disconnect, and it is apparent in the way they speak to one another. I always check-in with my kids. We sit down and really talk about life, dreams, goals, issues, relationships, etc. No matter how busy life gets, it is important for your child to realize that they are the most important person in your life. You care. You love. And most importantly, you don’t judge. You should be their safe place. That’s what unconditional love is all about.
I guess I’m an old-fashioned parent in the way I’ve raised and continue to raise my children, but you know what? They don’t hate me, and they appreciate the fact that I cared so much.
Now that my daughters are both adults, we’re now the best of friends.