Healthy Technology Usage and Summer Vacation: Helping Your Child Set Parameters

Smartphones and smart rules keep kids tech smart all summer

Kids today, loafing through the summer... playing tennis (on the Wii), lobbing projectiles (with Angry Birds), reading in the shade (on a Kindle) chatting with their friends (on Twitter).

It’s almost a cliché to lament kids' need to be constantly plugged in, but the truth is that technology has many benefits, especially when parents establish parameters for healthy technology use.

A 2010 Nielsen study found that children between the ages of 8 and 10 spend about 5.5 hours each day using media — 8 hours if you count the additional media consumed while multitasking. And it's safe to assume that kids might spend even more time online during the lazy days of summer. Could it be that online time might actually help counteract some of the common summer “brain drain”?

Some of the positive aspects of technology include:                                                                 

However, the key is for parents to help kids to find a balance, so they don’t spend all summer plugged in. Some guidelines for encouraging healthy technology usage in your house:

  • Plan other activities to limit the time kids have to veg out. Unstructured time can be great for creativity, but too much usually encourages them to turn to technology. Sign them up for a fun summer camp, or help them find a part-time job. Introduce them to a hobby or organize in real life (IRL) outings with their friends.
  • Encourage regular physical activity. Register for tennis lessons, or hang out at the lake in the afternoon. Invite your kids for an after-dinner walk or bike ride, or pull together an old-school neighborhood kickball game.
  • Set boundaries: Make sure your kids are completely turned off at nighttime so buzzes and beeps don't interrupt their sleep.
  • Join in the fun! Play video games together. Start a Words with Friends game that can be played while you are away at work. Text them a funny story about something you saw on your commute, a link to a sports article that might interest them or reminders to take out the trash. (Sometimes it’s easier to be a virtual nag!)

Don’t forget that a vital part of healthy technology use is common-sense safety precautions. Some pointers to share with your kids:

  • Don't "friend," "chat" or have cyber contact with anyone you don't know IRL. Even adults can be fooled by a smooth online talker.
  • Caution them about sharing financial and personal information, which could get into the wrong hands with ease and cause ongoing problems for them – and you!
  • Beware links in emails that can lead to phishing sites, which can infect devices with malware, Trojans and other viruses.

And, finally, consider your own devices. Whether you willingly submit your iPad on a long car ride, or find that your children have commandeered your smartphone while you bask on the beach, make sure they won’t be exposed to inappropriate content. And double-check that your security is updated, so they don’t inadvertently expose your own devices to viruses, Trojans and more.

Healthy technology usage can bring multiple positive benefits to enhance family time this summer, when accompanied by common-sense guidelines and appropriate security.

By Cathie Ericson                                                                                                                                

CONSUMER ARTICLES

Digital Family Life
2012 Olympics Apps
4 Ways To Backup Music
5 Weather Apps
9 New Years Apps
Apps for Baseball
Best Movie Apps
Buy Baby Domain Name
Children, Sleep & Technology
Facebook Parenting
Father’s Day Gift Guide
Foodie Mania
Free Mobile Apps
Gamification and Sports
Get in Shape
Graduation Gift Ideas
Lose Your Smartphone or Tablet
Mobile Apps & Natural Disasters
Mobile Device at the Ballpark
Music in The Cloud
Parent's Guide to Online Safety
Phishing Scams
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Sites
Social Media & School - #1
Social Media & School - #2
Social Media & School - #3
Social Networking
Summer Vacation
Summer Vacation & Tech Usage
Tech Savvy Teens
Technology & Music
Technostalgia
The Next Top Chef
Three Back-To-School Scams
Toddlers and Tablets
Tumblr Food Sites
Will Tablets Replace Laptops?
Wine & Mixology Sites
Mobile Security
3D Technology for Mobile
5 Phone Hacking Stories
7 Internet Security Lies
Best Apps for Vacation
Geolocation Services
Mobile Security Questions
Payment Technology
Prevent Phone Hacking
Smartphone & Tablet Security
Solar Powered Devices
Tax Refunds and Mobile
Voice Recognition & Security Threats
PC Security
5 Infographics
Computer Hackers & Predators
Computer Security Glossary
Computer Security Threats
Computer Virus Information
Credit Card Fraud
Email and Instant Message Activity
File Loss and Data Corruption
File Sharing and Downloads
Internet Browsing Safely
Internet Dangers
Internet Security FAQ
Interruptions from Popups & Spam
Malware Symptoms and Threats
Online Fraud Prevention
Online Identity Theft
PC Performance Problems
Phishing Scams
Prevent Malware Popups and Scams
Unexplained PC Behavior
You Are What You Google
Online Shopping & Banking
Banking Trends
Cool Music Apps
Credit Card Information
Credit Card Protection
Holiday Shopping Infographic
Holiday Shopping Tips
Mobile Fashionista
Top Music Sites
Digital Citizenship
Can Technology Save Lives?
Digital Grassroot Activism
Tech & Developing Countries
Cyberbullying & Online Predators
Cybercrime
Online Activities
Your Child's Online Reputation
Managing your Online Reputation
Digital Communication Style
Job Hunt Identity
Social Networks & Privacy
Sure Footed Social Networking
Wipe Your Device