12. How does our child respond if we tell them to put the device away, or if we limit their time?
13. How would our family change if we took away this device altogether?
13 questions to ask yourself before you introduce a new device:
Before you introduce a new device to your family, or—and this is the one we forget to think about—before you buy yourself a new device that your children will have regular access to, ask yourself these questions:
1. Why are we introducing this device? What is its purpose?
2. Is it age-appropriate for our children? Is it age-appropriate for some of our children, and not others? How will we handle that discrepancy?
3. Can our kids handle this device/game mentally and emotionally?
4. Do we have a child who tends to be obsessive about games? If so, are we prepared to monitor their behavior and mood and usage to the extent they will need? Are we willing to do this long-term? Are we willing to reevaluate how our child is handling this game/device/technology at different points, and adjust our parameters and guidelines as needed?
5. What guidelines do we need to put in place before we introduce this technology?
6. What conversations does our family need to have before we introduce this technology? What does our child need to understand about himself/herself before we put this device in their hands? What do they need to agree to before we put this device in their hands?
7. How will we know if things are not going well? What will we do if this device is not having a positive effect on our child or on our family?
8. Does one parent have misgivings or strong feelings against introducing this technology? Have both perspectives been fully heard?
9. What days and times is it okay and not okay to use this device? What places is it okay and not okay to use this device? Is it okay to use this device when friends or family come over to visit?
10. How much time are kids allowed to spend on this device each day/each week?
11. How will we track our child’s time on this device?
12. How will we monitor our child’s behavior on this device (websites they have visited, pictures they have taken and posted, messages they have sent to friends, new friends they have added to social networks)?
13. Are we willing to get rid of this device if it harms our child or our family in some way? Does our child accept our right and responsibility to make this decision?
As you make decisions about your family’s relationship to technology, remember these five principles:
Be an example. (Parents’ habits with phones, computers, and devices will influence our children more than anything we say.)
Be intentional. (Think. Engage. Discuss. Plan. Monitor. Adjust. Don’t let your family’s relationship with technology “just happen.”)
Be proactive. (Anticipate issues. Have discussions and set expectations ahead of time.)
Be flexible. (Adjust as the technology changes, and as kids change.)