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:

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

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