Given the well documented trend for silicon valley executives to place limits on the technology use of their own children, it came as no big surprise last week when Apple CEO Tim Cook used a UK school visit to promote moderation in tech use. He also stated that he doesn’t want his nephew on social media.
Prioritising children’s wellbeing
Perhaps it’s also a nod of recognition to recent calls for Apple to offer more robust inbuilt parental controls. While some Apple investors countered those calls, Cook’s recent comments might give some hope to those who want Apple to place children’s wellbeing as a priority.
Technology overuse – recognition of the problem
Some level of recognition of the problem by technology companies is becoming increasingly necessary. With every passing month and year, perception of the issue grows in the public eye. It happened through the American Academy of Pediatrics Academy announcing screen time recommendations, through the release of the “Screenagers” film, the recent call from Apple shareholders and the increasing number of parental control options on the market, including offerings from Google, Nintendo and more. The issues of technology overuse and dependence along with sub-issues like social media and gaming addiction are now so visible that the BBC recently ran a whole series of articles under the label #LikeMinded, which focussed specifically on social media overuse.
Whenever the wider recognition of the problem and commitment to countering it comes (and it does seems like they’re on the horizon) we’re still left dealing with it ourselves in the meantime. Individual parents are only too aware of the affect a phone, a snapchat account or any number of other services and devices can have on their kids. For this generation of parents it doesn’t matter what the studies show, or what celebrity figure recognises the problem, we need practical solutions. Now!
Community and solutions
Whilst the issue of technology overuse is becoming ever more visible in the media, it hasn’t suddenly appeared out of nowhere. There are a large number of existing communities, approaches and tools to help parents manage the way their children use technology, including social media.
In fact, simply by talking with friends about how you deal with problems arising from technology use in your family, you’re entering into a large community of parents taking action to find solutions.
Some solutions focus on openly discussing the issues with your children or modelling desirable behaviour and inviting your kids into it. Others involve setting rules for specific situations e.g. no devices at the dinner table. Some parents don’t mind about time spent online, but set a family rule explicitly reserving the right to check their teens messages occasionally.
Parental control apps like Kidslox are just one of many tools at parents disposal. They allow us to enforce the rules we set up and place boundaries against undesirable content. They’re not a full solution to the problem by themselves though. They always need to be used in combination with conversation, explanation, example and other relational elements of parenting.
What’s your approach like?
What’s your approach to managing your kids screen time? Do you have any rules in place? How often do you discuss issues like appropriate online behaviour or balancing virtual and real world activities? Do you actively engage in any parenting communities that address these questions? Do you use any tools to help you manage technology use? Let us know in the comments below. Perhaps you’ve not thought about this issue before. If not, the questions above might be a good starting point.