Rule #3: Love It Or Hate It, Technology is Part of Modern Family Life
Recently, I wrote a blog post about the value of blending traditional parenting techniques with modern parenting methods. While MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS know that it is important to keep using the classic parenting techniques that work for their family, they also acknowledge that progress/change is inevitable and they must deal with this change.
THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH PROGRESS/CHANGE IS TO NOT FIGHT IT AND TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY!
Therefore, I feel that it is important to make the successful integration and use of technology as one of the rules for Modern Families.
THE ADVANTAGES OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE FAMILY
There are many ways that technology can help to improve the closeness, efficiency, and overall enjoyment of the family. The following are several ways that I believe technology can help the family:
- Family members are easy to contact through calling, texting, and/or social media messaging
- Scheduling family activities with many different family members is made easier
- Family entertainment options (i.e. movies, karaoke, games, etc.)
- Educational advantages (i.e. online classes and/or tutorials, educational games, research for classes, etc.)
- Staying in contact with extended family members who live far away is made much easier.
The advantages that I pointed out above are just some of the benefits and conveniences that modern technology gifts MODERN MOMS and MODERN DADS, but there are many more. If you rely on technology to help with your family, please tell us how you do his in the comment section below.
All of these technological modern conveniences are items that our parents did not have at their disposal when we were kids (my parents and I got our first cell phones when I went off to college), which means that it is up to our generation to set boundaries with technology. Technological boundaries will be different for every family based upon their family style as well as their own family priorities.
Personally, I have found that as a working mom with teenagers, I rely on cell phones to not only allow me to communicate instantly with my kids when I am away from them, but the fact that my kids have access to contact me in the case of an emergency when they are away from me, gives me much needed PEACE OF MIND.
Another advantage that I like about technology is the way that it helps with family time. ** ACKNOWLEDGMENT – using technology isn’t the only way to have family time, but it is ONE MORE OPTION to bring the family together for some fellowship and interaction. ** Through technology, my family has watched movies, had dance contests using the Wii, karaoke, etc.
THE DISADVANTAGES OF TECHNOLOGY AND THE FAMILY
As most people would acknowledge, technology definitely has its disadvantages for the family as well. Technology is a tool that can be used by parents either WISELY or FOOLISHLY – it depends on:
- The purpose of its use
- The balance of technology with non-technological means
- The overall plan for using technology within the family.
So, let’s break these points down.
Technology does not benefit the family when the purpose for its use is either unclear or not defined, so make sure you know why you are allowing technology into the family.
For example, most parents these days have cell phones. In addition, many kids these days have their own cell phones, too (some kids as young as 5 years old). The parental decision to allow your child to have a cell should serve a purpose that compliments the family’s priorities.
Some good reasons for allowing kids to have cell phones could be for the following reasons: for safety reasons when the kids are away from home; to communicate with kids when mom and/or dad are at work; to learn responsibility by having the child earn the money to buy the phone and pay the bill, etc.
Some poor reasons for allowing kids to have a cell would be so they can have the same things their friends have, so they will stop bugging you for a cell phone, and/or so you feel like a good parent.
Therefore, every MODERN MOM and MODERN DAD should be clear on WHY they allowing things like cell phones, TVs, laptops, iPads, game consoles, and hand-held gaming toys into the family. If you are clear on the purpose they serve in helping you to meet the family priorities, then allowing them into the home makes sense for your family.
The next factor to consider is once you decide that allowing technology into your family, how do you MAINTAIN IT EFFECTIVENESS IN YOUR FAMILY?
One way is to make sure that technology doesn’t take over your family time – make sure there is a balance between technology and old-fashioned face-to-face family time.
For the cell phone example, a good way to maintain balance with his item is to make sure that both parents AND kids are not over-using it. Many families have rules regarding the cell phone use such as not using the phone during family dinners or other family bonding times. In this fashion, technology isn’t taking over family time – there is a time and place for technology.
So, as I have pointed out, technology sometimes can be overused, used for the wrong reasons, or could take over face-to-face family bonding time. Smart MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS make a PLAN when introducing new technology into the home that includes clear boundaries for its use and specific and realistic consequences for boundary violations.
So, back to the cell phone example again. When giving a child a cell phone for the first time, a smart MODERN FAMILY MOM and MODERN FAMILY DAD would create a plan before giving the child the phone (and remember, the plan should compliment the family priorities).
When is the child allowed to use the phone? Only for emergencies? Only during certain times of the day? What are the rules for using the phone? What happens if the child breaks the rules? All of these things need to be thought out in advance.
Once the plan has been created, communicate the plan to the child and make sure they understand the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules. Above all, model appropriate behavior for your child and demonstrate that you can responsibly use technology yourself.
Therefore, the take-home message is this: MODERN FAMILY MOMS and MODERN FAMILY DADS only allow those technological items into the home that they feel helps the family live by the family priorities. Parents do not have to allow every new electronic “hot” item into the house – only those that make sense for the family.
Once technology is allowed in the home, make sure there is a clear plan for its use. It is a parent’s job to monitor the child’s behavior with technology, so factor in the time and energy it will take to monitor your child when considering buying this new item.
Finally, tell me and the other readers of PARENTING THE MODERN FAMILY your thoughts on successful families and technology. What forms of technology could you not live without? What do you not allow in your family? I would love to hear your thoughts!
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