Structure is Critical
The other day a friend asked me, “What is an appropriate age to give your child their first tablet?” While I think the answer is different for every family, one thing is true:
More important than giving your child the opportunity to use a tablet is giving them guidance and structure to where they can use this tool effectively and responsibly.
Compare the responsibility of accessing the internet to the ownership or use of your first automobile. Your parents probably didn’t just hand over the keys without some rules, and probably those rules were pretty strict.
I remember the rules for use of my first car:
- You can only drive to and from school on weekdays.
- You have to let us (my parents) know where you are going on the weekends, and you have to be home by 11pm.
- Bring the car back with the same amount of gas you left with (which admittedly didn’t always happen…sorry mom and dad!)
- You are only allowed one passenger at a time- and not a drop of alcohol can be consumed while driving.
What is baffling is that most parents don’t set any limits with internet use for their child’s first device. Yet, the information superhighway poses just as many risks as the dangers of the open road. While some dangers are easily identifiable, such as predators in online chatrooms and online bullying- other dangers are more subtle, such as slowly drifting into an online fantasy world while ignoring face-to-face social interactions and physical activity. For both internet gaming addiction and preventing poor online habits alike, setting up and enforcing a structure is critical.
The good news is that online limits are easily set. For instance, Microsoft Family makes it easy to enforce time limits for all your devices, in addition to access to types of different websites and online games.
Yes, it is possible for tech savvy teens to defeat some online security measures. We discuss these issues at camp and use security defeating behaviors as a point of discussion for determining if the child is ready to accept higher levels of autonomy and responsibility online.
Involving your Child is Critical for Internet Gaming Addiction Treatment (Gaming Overuse)
At Summerland Camps we suggest involving your child in determining what safeguards are appropriate. At what time should devices go off on school nights? What websites are okay to visit and which ones are not?
We suggest families reach consensus agreement. Then as parents, we need to hold our children to what they agreed to do.