Does it seem like the only thing your child wants to do is play video games? Do they throw tantrums and become argumentative when it’s time to transition from game play to another activity? Do you observe physical or psychological agitation when they cannot get back to their game or social media interests? Does your child sneak screen time at night instead of sleeping or completing homework? If these behaviors sound familiar, you may need to take control of the technology in your home.
You will need to go beyond setting a schedule or basic limits for technology use. This is literally about taking control, “controlling the controller.” It’s time to take possession of the hardware and access to technology.
Before you become the dreaded “Technology Dictator” in your home, it is important to recognize that healthy kids (especially teens) have regular and substantial needs to use technology for school, play, and socialization. However, abusive behaviors–angry outbursts, addictive tendencies, and deception–are not “normal” and require a more rigorous limit setting approach on the part of parents.
The following recommendations are designed for households where these issues have gotten out of hand and basic limit-setting has proven to be ineffective.
Keep all technologies in public areas. Do not allow TVs in bedrooms, not even your own. Place the consoles, computers, and screens in public areas that you can monitor easily. This may also need to include handheld devices like phones and iPods.
Own the technologies. Be the “owner” of the game controllers, tablets, and remotes. Your kids will need to ask to use them. This is particularly easy to justify if you pay for the cell phone; being in possession of it at nighttime or when it might be overused can be considered an issue of ownership.
Have strict and rigid rules about access. In some homes all screens and phones are shut off by 8 or 9 pm. This is more easily enforced when parents follow the same rules. And it’s not just about your kids getting incidental exposure to screen time. Modeling behavior is an important parenting technique to use with kids of any age, and teenagers in particular will appreciate you abiding by the same rules.
Take the power. In some situations, you may need to physically shut off the router in your house or shut down the power in certain rooms. Place the router in your room, so you have control of it. Take away power cords to the computer if necessary.
Get a technology to control technology. There are some great tools built into many consoles for limiting video game use. Some other interesting parenting strategies can be found at Parent Hacks. In addition, click here for a listing of other apps and devices for limiting access or time for technology use.
Are you dealing with technological rebellion in your household? What kind of strategies have you found useful? Let’s talk! Leave a comment below or come talk to us on Facebook.
Featured image: Flickr user Ian Richardson