February 17, 2019

How to Curb Your Kids' Tech Addiction

“When my daughter was a preschooler in 2011, her request for technology was a simple choice between a talking cartoon dog or a Teletubbies video. But modern parenting has taken a wild turn. Games now come with complicated storylines and mysterious characters, and social media apps come with unknown risks and long-term consequences. Parents unknowingly became sole gatekeepers to this technology fortress—but that doesn’t stop our kids from finding ways across the moat.

As a mom raising a Gen Z’er, part of my job is to set boundaries and teach her how to balance the addicting and constantly evolving virtual world with the real one. With an iPhone in hand and access to so many gaming and social networking apps, her desire to be online all the time is a challenge.

Our reality isn’t unique. A May report from the Pew Research Center found that 95% of US teens have a smartphone, and 45% of teens are online on a near-constant basis. (This data is supported by a personal analysis of our car rides, during which she once didn’t notice that I sang the same Fleetwood Mac song 14 times in a row.)

My daughter’s relationship with technology isn’t much different than my own. I spend hours reading an endless stream of Facebook posts while I lie in bed. I watch videos recommended for me, starting with a Jimmy Fallon Late Night clip at 10pm and ending on a heart-wrenching dog reunion video by midnight. After four years working for a tech startup and checking Slack on my phone all hours of the day, I decided to experiment with removing the app. But before I even opened my eyes for the next few days, I found myself mentally searching for the app to check for any messages. People of all ages, myself included, face challenges with creating boundaries for how much time they spend on their phones and the apps on them.”

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