Despite a requirement of adulthood being a high-tech, fast-paced life, that doesn’t necessarily mean parents are ready to introduce technology into the lives of their children so quickly. The Slow Tech Parenting movement is making its rounds on parenting sites everywhere, and moms and dads are trying to decide what kind of parenting style works best for their family.
Sure, embracing technology to its fullest can be entertaining. Think of all the video games, virtual reality, apps, gadgets, and more that can be enjoyed together. Handing over the tablet can be a welcome break for parents stuck in the throes of a tantrum, and give kids endless hours of fun on a rainy day. But, when is it too much? And, what is considered too soon?
Many experts offer a balanced exposure approach to technology introduction, and some still recommend waiting until preschool once kids are having meaningful interactions with the world around them. While experts are looking at many different factors for their recommendations, many parents are living an entirely different day-to-day than the experts are accounting for. Still, some parents are happily following this Slow Tech Parenting idea, and possibly for good reason.
Everyone has heard that anything in moderation can be a great thing. For example, take Janell Burley Hofmann who introduced The Contract to her son when she and her husband bought him his first iPhone. They gave him technology to use and enjoy, but they also set boundaries for how he was to use his newfound independence. Hofmann even introduced the Slow Tech Movement as a way for her family to use technology that centered around the entire family system. They have constant conversations about how and when it’s appropriate to use and interact with their phones, tablets, computers, and other devices.
(Coming soon to FamilyTech – One Family’s Tech Story: An Interview with Janell Burley Hofmann, Creator of the iPhone Contract and Author of iRules)
Many other parents are happily introducing technology to kids right away. As much as 81 percent of toddlers have an online presence. That doesn’t mean that toddlers have their own Instagram account and are filtering their own photos, this means parents are posting their kid’s picture, helping them create their own YouTube channels, and sharing growth updates on Facebook weekly, monthly, yearly. It is being built right into the fabric of the family from the start.
For parents who think the Slow Tech Movement might be for them, considering a few things can help bring it to life.
Lead By Example
Taking the time to sit down with kids and explain what technology is used for and how it can be helpful to families is a great place to start. Helping young kids understand that mom or dad needs their computer for work because they need to communicate with their colleagues shows kids that technology is necessary for interaction between certain people. Then, taking the time to put the technology away at the end of the day and explaining that when work is over, it’s family time, will help set the Slow Tech Parenting example.
Be Deliberate About Early Education
Choosing Slow Tech Parenting might mean that Waldorf or Montessori schools are the best place for preschool and early education. Many Silicon Valley employees put their kids into Waldorf schools and then begin introducing technology a bit later than most. Helping children to interact with peers in a meaningful way before adding the uncertainty of technology might be what works best for some.
Set Boundaries and Stick To Them
No matter what age kids are, a slower tech parenting style can be adopted. Setting boundaries for specific no-tech and tech areas of the house give kids a clear picture of when technology is appropriate and when it is not. For example, the dinner table might be a tech-free zone. This means that parents also forgo their smartphones during dinner. Maybe even bedrooms become tech-free zones. This gives parents a chance to monitor what their kids are doing with technology because it will always be in an open space where everyone is together. Even using things like Circle with Disney give parents control around when and how kids can use tech.
Use Technology When It’s Helpful
Certain aspects of technology can help families and give parents and kids both the chance not to feel like they’re missing out on the ever-changing digital world. Apps like Mothershp can help parents get household chores done, but it doesn’t require a lot of energy or time, making typically charged tasks fun, interactive, and quick, and giving everyone a chance to get back to the things that actually matter. Maybe a piece of the Slow Tech Parenting means less TV time, but family movie night means streaming a favorite family movie on Netflix.
The Slow Tech Parenting style doesn’t mean no technology at all. It just means that each member of the family is cognizant of their tech use, technology is limited to certain times of the day or areas of the house, and it’s used for the benefit of all. Maybe Slow Tech Parenting is the perfect fit for your family.
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