Now that your kids have opened the tablets, phones or other devices they received over the holidays, it’s time to set some limits.
Experts suggest families create a technology plan that includes rules for when it is okay to use electronics and when devices need to be put away.
They say it is important to be realistic, especially with older children. A tech-free dinner is one thing, but a full week without mobile devices may be ambitious.
You can also encourage your kids to use technology in meaningful ways. For example, use Facetime or Skype to call grandparents or other relatives that live far away.
It’s also a good idea to have a central area in your home, away from bedrooms, to charge devices at night.
Adults need to set a good example, too, by limiting their own technology use.
Experts say a conversation about online safety is also important.
“Celebrate the excitement but then have that really important talk,” says Titania Jordan of Bark, a parental control phone tracker app. “Just like you wouldn’t give your children keys to a car without having car insurance.”
According to Bark, the average age of online sexual harassment and cyberbullying is just 13-years-old.
“Over 50 percent of children each month with accounts on Bark have issues like these flagged and sent to parents, so we know from our data this is really happening,” Jordan says.
For about $10 per month, Bark can monitor your child’s social media accounts, texts, and apps and identify causes for concern.
There are also a number of free parental controls available from cell service providers and built-in on most devices.
“Both Android and iOS have great parental controls now,” says Suzanne Kantra of Techlicious. “You can even set things like amount of screentime for various types of apps.”
Be sure to protect any new accounts with strong passwords.
A password manager such as RememBear can make it easier.
“That way it can generate a strong password for you, then it’s very easy to look up whenever you need to use it,” Kantra says.
You should also protect the device itself with a screen protector and shock-proof case. Experts say to look for tempered glass options, which offer better protection than plastic ones.
You might also want to look at insurance through your mobile carrier to protect the device from loss or theft.