It’s hard keeping track of all of the tech that is out there these days. A lot of times our digital-native children know new apps and tools before parents do! Fortunately, there are some easy tips that will make parenting an adolescent in the 21st century a little easier.
- Seemingly every week there are new apps and games that seem to pop up. The kids know about them and want them, and of course ask to get them at the time when you are least prepared to answer (at least that’s how it is in my house!). Fortunately, there is a great parent resource at Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media not only rates movies and TV shows, but also apps and games. It describes the upside and downside of them and allows you to make an informed choice for your student. If you’ve never used it, consider adding it to your bookmarks.
- Getting middle school aged kids to manage/regulate their screen time is the parenting challenge of today. Clearly, app developers have tapped into methods that keep people on games and social media. The first step is to set clearly defined boundaries of tech use that the whole family follows. Like we've mentioned on the blog before, Tech-free meals are a great place to start, as this is a key time for families to socialize together. Tech should also be limited in the bedroom, especially around sleeping hours. A tech free time of at least 30 minutes before bed helps middle school minds to calm down before sleep. Removing the devices from the room also prevents notifications from waking up students in the middle of the night.
- To help our kids (and ourselves--let’s be honest) prevent our tech from becoming black holes in terms of how long we are on them, there are two good ways to monitor time usage on the iPad/smartphone. For Apple users, you can see how the device is being used by opening the “settings” and then hitting the “battery” icon. You can see battery use in terms of percentages (i.e. what am I using the most) as well as hitting the clock icon to see use in terms of time. There is also a good free app Moment, that tracks your device use over time. It is kept open and running in the background and allows you to track time on the device as well as set goals. Students need help managing their time on the iPad, and these are both good tools to help you teach them. You’ll be surprised by your own usage as well.
Over the rest of the semester, we’ll be posting more tech tips to help parents stay on top of this evolving part of life in the 21st century.
Jonathan Davis is the Head of Middle School at Shorecrest, an Apple Distinguished School. The Apple Distinguished School, a designation reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.