You know what it’s like. . .trying to have a conversation with a teen (or tween!) whose nose is inches away from a tiny screen. It can seem impossible to compete with the world at their fingertips!

Media and technology are at the very center of all our lives today — especially our children’s.  As they consume and create using media, their social, emotional, physical and mental development is affected.

As a parent, your child needs you to be tuned in to their media use in order to help them thrive. If you struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing digital world, you’re not alone. However, with a little bit of research and intention, you can be a guide and a positive force as they navigate through the problems and possibilities in front of them. Common Sense Media is a website with great resources and ideas to help families.

Now about that phone. . .here’s some of the information you will see on their site.

Staying in touch with friends is important to tweens and teens — when we were teens, we talked for hours on the phone! Now the same kind of contact happens through texting. And, as annoying as it can be to see your kids jabbing away at their phones, it’s a normal part of life. However, if cell phone use is getting in the way of family time, homework, and other responsibilities, it might be time to help your kid manage his or her phone time.

Help kids find space for face-to-face conversations. Put phones down during key conversation times such as dinner or car rides.

Model the manners and behavior you want to see. Avoid texting in the car. Consider narrating your phone use (“I’m looking up directions to the party”) so young kids understand the utility of the device. Make sure to excuse yourself if you have to interrupt a family moment to attend to your phone.

Charge kids’ phones in your room at night. Removing their phones can give kids a needed break.

Establish consequences for problematic phone use. If your kids are having trouble putting the phone away when you ask or are engaging in other problematic phone-related behavior, consider instituting temporary time or location limits. Some wireless carriers offer parental controls that let you set daily phone-use limits, and some apps can disable your kid’s phone when he or she hits a limit.

Pledge to be involved and stay involved in your kid’s technology use. Kids who learn to use digital media wisely can accomplish amazing things — learn new skills, explore new worlds, build new ideas, and change the world.

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