5 Tips for Parents to Get Their Kids to Put Their Phones Down

 

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One thing about swimming: your kids can’t swim and text.

Every day there are articles about social media and how it affects our children. I see the issue when kids sit next to each other, not talking, but texting or posting. My own daughter got in trouble with her coach for inappropriate texts when she was in high school. I feel like social media can be a landmine for our children. What can we do as parents to help them avoid the problems and pitfalls?

 

In the Washington Post’s article “5 ways parents can help kids balance social media with the real world,” the author Adrienne Wichard-Edds, gives practical advice on what to do about the constant presence and temptation of smartphones and kids.

“According to a 2015 report from Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day consuming online entertainment.

“In search of advice on how to parent teens whose social lives hinge on a click, I turned to Ana Homayoun, a Silicon Valley-based expert on teen behavior. Her book Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World comes out next month.

“We’re having the wrong conversations with our kids around social media,” she says. “When we focus on fear and judgment — when we say ‘don’t do that because you’ll get in trouble,’ or ‘if you do that, you won’t get into college’ — kids will just go underground and find other ways to hide their online interactions.”

We all want our kids to be in the real world and spend less time online. But, what can we do about it? I’ve heard people argue that social media is fine and it’s a new way of communicating. My parents were annoyed with my brother and me who talked on the phone with our best friends for hours. My parents said more than once, “Why don’t you go over to their house, or have them over?” Kids no longer are attached to a long cord hooked to the wall but are posting and texting instead.

Here are five tips discussed in the article:

ONE
“Check your kid’s phone. “Particularly in middle school but also in high school, kids should know that parents can ask for their phones at any point and be allowed full access,” Homayoun says.

TWO
“Be app-savvy. “If your kid is on it, you should be, too,” Homayoun says of apps and social media platforms. “You don’t have to have an account, but at least try it out so you can have informed conversations about it. If your kids know that you understand the social media they’re using, they’re more likely to come to you to talk about issues that pop up.”

THREE
“Help kids understand their “why.” Inspire kids to act out of internal motivation instead of fear, Homayoun says, by helping them build their own filter. “Encourage your kids to ask themselves ‘Why am I picking up my phone? Am I bored, am I lonely, am I sad? Am I just uncomfortable because I’m in a room where I don’t know anyone?’

FOUR
“Set clear ground rules. Talk to your kids about appropriate social media use before you give them a phone or allow them to download a new app, says Homayoun.

FIVE
“Create opportunities for digital detox. “Give kids a budget to plan their own screen-free adventures — don’t just say, ‘Okay, kids, get offline and come do some chores,’ ” Homayoun says. She also points out that kids need to learn how to be okay with being offline.”

I’m curious about how other families deal with social media. My kids are older and I was the mom who said “no” to MySpace, Facebook etc. My kids had prepaid flip phones and their big thrill was to get one with a camera. Also, very few kids back then had access to smartphones. It was a big discussion with fellow parents about what age kids should have them. Now, they are part of our daily lives and I bet more kids have them than not.

What are your strategies for dealing with social media and younger kids?

 

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I had a pink phone like this in my bedroom and talked to my friends for hours.

 

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Are Children Living Life Through a Lens?

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Experiencing the beach.

My daughter and I walked into an elevator yesterday at Nordstrom’s with a mom pushing a Thule baby stroller, snapping pics of her infant and tapping away on her phone to post the pics. My daughter whispered to me, “Thank God they didn’t have iPhones when I was a kid!”

I told her I was thankful that their early childhood was before the era of smartphones, too.

Later, I asked her why she was glad we didn’t have iPhones. Her answer surprised me. “Because you would have been taking photos constantly and posting every moment of my life on FaceBook,” she said.

Psychologists warn about kids spending too much time in front of screens and not enough of their time outdoors in an article in the DailyMail.com called “Why children should not be selfie stars:”

In advice to parents, Dr. Godsi said: ‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

The author added: ‘In my opinion selfies should not be encouraged.

‘I think there is a place for taking a few photos, as a way to help families remember or look back and to share memories but the constant pressure to post on social media means there’s a risk that they (children) don’t experience anything except through a lens.’

My daughter said that once I got my first iPhone and was learning how to use it, “You relentlessly posted ugly, fat pictures of me on FaceBook.”

I view those photos not as ugly, but on a scale of cute to adorable to gorgeous.

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Learning about the ocean in Junior Lifeguards.

I explained that I was so glad she and her brother weren’t posing for pictures constantly, weren’t worried about what other kids were doing at the moment, but went outside to play. That’s why I’m glad the iPhone wasn’t a thing in their early years.

When we had kids over, they weren’t sitting side by side texting each other. No, they were running around the backyard and house playing a reverse hide-and-seek game called sardines—for hours on end.

When we were at the beach, they were jumping in the waves, body surfing, building drip castles, digging holes and yes—occasionally fighting and throwing sand. As annoying and painful as throwing sand was–especially dealing with sand in the eyes–it sure beats constantly posing for pictures.

My daughter says there is room for both. When she goes to the beach with friends, they now get a few pics, then toss the phones in a beach bag and dive under the waves.

Here are a few frightening stats from the article in the UK Mail:

Dr. Godsi spoke out after a survey of 2,000 parents by outdoor education provider, Kingswood, found that the biggest source of quality time among families is spent watching TV together. Sixty-eight percent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).

The average age of the parents’ children was ten, while 445 were seven.

Asked to look back to when all their youngsters were seven, 85 percent of families said their sons or daughters had never gone camping.

Sixty-five percent said they had never played pooh sticks or climbed a tree (51 percent).

Forty-one per cent admitted their children had never been on a bike ride, paddled in the sea (43 percent) or played in a park (31 percent).

It’s very easy to get sedentary. It’s also easy not to talk to each other when we’re buried and focused on our screens. I’m lucky to spend this week with my daughter just hanging out and being with eachother.

What are your thoughts about selfies, kids and family time? Do your kids spend enough time without their phones experiencing outdoors?

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On the lookout for dolphins and whales.

 

Is There Something Apple Isn’t Telling Us?

One of our earlier Macs.

One of our earlier Macs.

I never realized how much I depended on my iPhone, until it went down!  It’s almost like missing a good friend. I’ve written about my relationship with technology in a blog post here.

My son called to tell me he finally got new tires. After a nice talk, I put the phone down and next time I picked it up I discovered a white screen with the Apple logo. (Which reminds me of a funny video called, “Put Your Phone Down!” — by Smog and Fog, the Whole Foods and Yoga Girl guy.)

Not good. I got the phone in March, so I knew it was still under warranty. I backed it up when it acted skittish a few weeks ago. I wasn’t panicked because I knew I wasn’t losing anything irreplaceable.

This looks like the very first Mac I owned.

This looks like the very first Mac I owned.

The only thing I was truly suffering from was inconvenience.  I got online and tried a bunch of technical fixes from Apple Support like updating and restoring. Repeatedly. Nothing worked. I drove to AT&T where I bought it to see if they could do anything. Nope.

I had no choice but to go to Apple and visit the Genius Bar. The only problem was the next available appointment was five days away! I went ahead and made the appointment. What other choice did I have?

During the next days, I checked myself every time I reached for my phone. I posted on FB that I was phone-less in the off chance someone needed to reach me. I still have a home phone, email, etc. My morning walks were without my iHeart radio. I couldn’t take photos of the beauty during my morning walks, nor post to insta. I couldn’t tweet. What on earth was a person to do?

What we used before computers.

What we used before computers.

I decided not to wait for my appointment. Instead I drove to Palm Desert, which is 30 miles away, to the Apple store before it opened this morning. Was I shocked to see 50 people standing in line on the sidewalk!

“Oh, great,” I thought. “I pick the day they release the iPhone 6s to get my phone looked at!”

But, no, standing in line, feeling the camaraderie that happens when you’re waiting with strangers, I discovered that the new iPhone won’t be in stores for about a week. People I talked with had the same white screen with the Apple logo on their iPhone 6. This cannot be good. What the heck is going on? Is there something that Apple isn’t telling us? Is it the upgrade to iOS 9? 

When my hour and 45 minute wait was over and I got a coveted stool at the Genius bar, my “appointment genius” couldn’t answer my questions.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

“It could be because of anything,” he said. “No, it’s not an upgrade glitch.”

Hmmmm. I glanced up and down the Genius bar at all the frozen phones. Interesting.

The best thing I can say about this adventure is this: the customer service at Apple is amazing. I walked away with a new phone, feeling thankful to have my friend, iPhone 6, back in my daily life.

Has anyone else had their iPhone freeze this week?

I wonder if the world as we know it would come to a halt, if there was a truly huge Apple glitch? What does that say about how dependent we are on technology and electronics?

It's back!

It’s back!