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What do you know about the apps your kids are using and how they are using them?
So much of the discussion today around devices and apps centers around how much time our kids should be on their phones and how we should restrict their usage. These are valid discussions and need to be a part of the parenting process.
But let us put another factor into the discussion which also may help you with the screen time issue. Become a student of your child’s device usage. Ask them to explain the apps to you and how they use them. Be genuinely curious, not judgmental. Don’t go into the discussion trying to find out the bad stuff so you can have reason to lecture them and restrict them.
We find often that kids love to explain technology to their parents. It’s a place they know more than we do and can be the authority on the subject. Also, if they believe you really want to understand and not condemn, they are much more likely to be more open with you.
Also ask questions about the benefits and the costs of using the particular app. What do they get out of it? How does it help them to communicate with their friends or be relevant in discussions or how does the app entertain them? As you have these discussions, you can help them to see the dangers of these apps in their lives and you can better understand the pull these apps have in their lives.
The ultimate goal of these discussions is for you to understand their lives better so you can talk with them better about limits. In some cases, we have even seen the child decide to put limits on the app or even delete it altogether of their own choice. Then you become a partner with them helping them make wise decisions on their own instead a perceived controlling parent who doesn’t really understand their world.
Try having these discussions and see if it helps you to help your child manage their device and app use.