Come on, guys, it’s time to get to school!
Remember when that used to be a phrase you spoke out loud? Fast forward to the 21st century—it’s probable that you just texted that to your kids from the kitchen.
Your phone, your spouse’s phone, your kids’ phones, their laptops, desktop, iPods, iPads, and televisions—electronics galore! Times have changed, and we may as well figure out how to manage the onslaught of technology instead of burying our heads in the sand about its potential dangers. But how?
Limit Screen Time
Most of us already know the risks of a sedentary, screen-overloaded lifestyle. Obesity, violence, irregular sleep, behavioral problems—not so fun. But how do we productively monitor and limit screen time for kids? A lot of little successes will come from your willingness to set a good example and keep firm boundaries. Keep TV and computers in the background turned off, keep electronics out of the bedroom, set rules during the school week about screen time and use recording devices to decide which programs to watch instead of scanning for what’s on now—these are the rules we live by in my house.
Limit Texting While Driving
Would you let your kids drink and drive? I didn’t think so. Yet many of us text and drive, despite the shocking results of a study from the University of Utah which found that the risk of being in an accident while using a cellphone is similar to the risk of driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit of intoxication. Because of this, 35 states have passed laws banning cellphone use while driving—check what your state laws are, and be sure to set an example for your kids by avoiding texting and driving. To manage your kids’ texting behavior, consider enrolling your family’s phones into programs or apps like TextLimit, DriveMode, and Canary, which allow you to set the speed at which features like texts, emails, and beeps get disabled. Some apps also allow you to enable geo-locating and receive speeding alerts to keep a close eye on your kids.
Family Protection Plans
You may as well place wagers on how long the latest electronic devices will last in your house. If the kids don’t beg you for the newest devices each time one is launched, then they’ll ask for replacements because somebody dropped their backpack and cracked their iPhone screen. With all of the devices in your house, how do you keep track of when you purchased which one, and what level of insurance you have on this one, or that one? Use a bundled protection plan that covers smartphones, tablets, electronics, and even appliances for a low monthly price, with easy claims resolution and quick turnaround for replacements—it’s an investment all savvy moms should make to keep the household running smoothly.
Keep Your Kids Safe Online
There’s no need for scaremongering. However, back in 2004, the Youth Internet Safety Survey showed 1 in 5 youth received unwanted sexual solicitation online. Now, they’ve also found that cyberbullying can start as young as in second grade—lets pause so I can take a giant swig of mommy juice, that is insane!
Anyway, the two-pronged approach to deflect this from happening to your family calls for you, the mom, to have explicit conversations with your children about online safety. Be sure to address valuing privacy online, stress to never give out personal information or photos and to never meet any online friends in person. Most importantly, teach your children to always be kind—because anything posted online will last forever.
These chats can be awkward, but someone has to do it. At the same time, be a smart parent and use your internet service provider’s parental controls, and check the history of your kids’ online usage—don’t snoop, be transparent about what you are doing. Make sure you know what their social networking profiles show, perhaps requiring them to give you their login and password information. Install a mobile security app like Snap Secure to protect your family in the digital space.