Tips for Helping Kids Manage Screen Time and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Tips for Helping Kids Manage Screen Time and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway
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Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous workshop called Tech Reset. It was put on by Rachael Herrscher from Today’s Mama, Mindy McKnight from Cute Girl Hairstyles, Anna Macfarlane from Kids Are The Worst, and Matt McKee of Bark. The purpose of the event was to acknowledge parents concerns about the role technology plays in our kids lives and to give practical advice on how best to teach them to navigate it.

I loved it. Seriously, I was taking notes fast and furiously throughout the entire event. Many of you know that I have a couple of older children (they are married, even…how did that happen!), one teen daughter and two young sons who are knocking on the door of teenage-hood at the ripe old age of 12. These youngest boys of mine will be heading out the door this fall to the new world of Junior High. I can’t believe how much technology has changed since my oldest son went to Junior High. Different social media platforms, cell phone capabilities and the ever looming threat of predators and pornography have all intensified, for sure. When I look back on how I helped my older kids “manage technology”, I have to admit to having regrets. There are many, many things I would do differently for them, knowing what I know now from my own personal experience online and by witnessing just how easy it is for predators to have access to our kids through technology.

I also know that technology and the way we use our screen time can be fabulous, inspiring, uplifting and very fulfilling. These are amazing times we live in! Learning how to best manage and use the technology available to us is of key importance. I thought I would give a recap of what I learned at Tech Reset, just in case there are a few of you out there looking for some tips and tricks. The purpose of this post isn’t to tell you what I do that works well, but to pass on some great information I got at the Workshop and to point you towards fantastic resources presented at the workshop. See many links below. There are no affiliate links, nor am I getting any kind of kick back from the information recommended in this post. I just wanted to pass on these valuable tips and tricks. As a parent it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the task of managing technology. Goodness…it’s seems hard to monitor and manage our own selves sometimes. I get it. 🙂 I recommend just choosing one thing you can do this week to improve the way you and your family use the tech world, and then improving from there. Don’t be discouraged.

To enter the giveaway, all you need do is leave a comment (either here or on Instagram) of any kind that has to do with Kids and Technology. You could offer a suggestion based on something you’ve done that worked well with your kids, you can ask for advice on something you are struggling with, you can respond to someone else’s question, etc. I’m hoping the comment section can be a conversation tool and resource for all of us. We are all figuring this out together, right? 😉 The Giveaway will be open from today until Thursday, April 18th. The winner will be announced on Friday morning, April 19th.

Now, here are some of the great advice I was given at the conference…

 

 

Ideas from Rachael Herrscher from Today’s Mama

I love Rachael, this lady has some top-notch ideas. Here are a few

Today’s parents are Xennials: I’d never heard that term before attending the conference, but it refers to those of us who were born in a world without the internet, but are raising kids who are native to technology, meaning they’ve never lived in a world with out it. This puts us in a tricky spot, since we were never trained by our own parents to navigate technology. However, the ball is certainly in our court. How we help our kids navigate the digital world will carry on and affect the way they train their own kids. While this is a sobering thought, I appreciated the perspective it gives and the call to action it initiates.

Have a purpose for each device and each platform: Take an inventory of all the devices used by the people in your home (even TV’s) and decide what purpose they fill. Do the same thing with each new app, social media platform, website, game, etc that is used by any family member. Taking this kind of inventory helps us see how we can get rid of time-wasting technology and make better use of technology that benefits us. This will of course look differently for each family.

Smart Phones: When Rachael gives her kids a Smart Phone (at age 16) she requires them to pay either $35 per month to use them, or they have to listen to 4 podcasts of her choice during the month. Isn’t that clever? I bet that opens up a lot of opportunity for chit-chat. 😉 You can see a list of the PODCASTS for TEENS she recommends by clicking HERE. She also suggests learning how to use the devices you give your kids before you hand it over to them.

Serve the Apple Slices: Have you noticed that kids are willing to eat more apples if we slice them up and present them to our kids. Rachel likens that same idea to offering our kids activities that don’t involve technology. Examples could be, leaving a family puzzle out to work on, having art supplies available, placing value on learning musical instruments, playing sports, even hanging out with friends. All too often technology becomes the instant draw when there is down time. Having other things readily available can help separate us from the easy fix.

To see Rachel’s latest posts and podcasts on  Kids and Technology, click HERE. Lots of great information there.

 

Mindi McNight from Cute Girl Hairstyles

Mindi and her daughters have many different You Tube channels and social media accounts that have awarded them a very large online presence. (I’m sure many of you have heard of them!) She has a lot of experience dealing with kids in an online world. She was very positive about how technology can benefit us as individuals and families.

Image result for viral parenting mindi

Mindi recently came out with this fabulous book Viral Parenting about setting boundaries with our kids. She has a lot of great advice! I highly recommend it. I especially love her ideas about writing up a contract for cell phone usage and having both the parent and the child sign it before the device is given.

 

 

Ideas from Anna Macfarlane from Kids Are The Worst

Anna offers many great ideas on how to communicate with kids, keeping things light and humorous while remaining the insightful parents we all hope we are. 😉 She has a fantastic downloadable package called Family Social and Media Guides. Here are a few of the ideas she gave at the conference…

STOP. WALK. TELL. Have a drill that kids can use when they see something online that is inappropriate. Stop. Walk. Tell. is the drill Anna and her kids use. She has them practice it regularly, helping them know just how to handle the situation when it arises…which we all know happens more than we would like. What a great way to keep an open line of communication.

Have a Family Thread: Have a space where you can share fun things with your kids. Meme’s, funny pictures, inspiring quotes, cool articles you come across, etc. You could simply use a texting thread everyone is on, or create a group on Group Me.

Learn the Lingo: Make sure you know which social media platforms your kids are on. Check them out regularly and make sure your kids are posting appropriately. Don’t be afraid to ask your kids what different online slang words mean, like “yeat” and “swoll”. Ha! It’s like this whole other language exists through social media, right? I have no idea what those words mean, but I bet my kids do. Getting familiar with the lingo, by asking our kids to teach us opens up those lines of communication that are so important.

 

 

Matt McKee of Bark.

Image result for bark parenting software

 

Bark is a Parent Monitoring App that that covers text messaging, You Tube, email, social media platforms and apps. It provides automatic alerts to you through text or email when there are any signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, adult content, etc. on your kids’ devices. This whole program seems like such a great way to help monitor our kids. I totally understand the need for parents to have access to kids’ accounts and the importance of reading through text messages, instant messages, social media platforms, etc…but it can be overwhelming to think of reading through all that content on a regular basis. Bark takes the time-consuming element out of the equation by sending you updates when anything looks suspicious. It seems like a really great tool, one my family and I are looking into. I thought I would pass it along to all of you as well. Here are a few more details about how it works…

 

 

 

Here are a couple of testimonials from parents who have used it…

 

You can read more about Bark by clicking HERE.

Thanks for dropping by today! I hope some of this information was helpful to you. I look forward to reading your comments!

 



Post a comment!

49 Comments

  1. 1
    Cherise Nielson
    April 10, 2019 at 9:50 am

    I like netnanny for filtering. We also set time allowances for every device.

  2. 2
    Cheryl Sarges
    April 10, 2019 at 10:07 am

    I love the idea of watching Podcasts in exchange for screen time. My son is almost 12, and I am going to incorporate this idea into our family.

  3. 3
    Amy
    April 10, 2019 at 10:18 am

    I’ve been following Collin Kartchner for a long time on instagram. I love the movement he has started of save the kids, save the parents. I highly recommend his Ted talk. You can find it on YouTube. My husband and I watched it and was really eye opening in the things we need to work on as parents in order to help our kids learn good technology habits.

  4. 4
    Amy
    April 10, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Mine are so little that my biggest concern is mostly the amount of time spent on the screens. The best way I’ve found to end screen time, for us, is leaving the house. We got an aquarium membership so we can go run around without paying to go somewhere every time we leave.

  5. 5
    Sharon Smith
    April 10, 2019 at 10:26 am

    I definitely think parents should know every social media app their kids are using. There is one I never heard of called Kik which is a texting app. The thing that’s scary about it is people can text anonymously. So from what I’ve read bad people such as pedophiles that target young people can use it and not be traced when a crime happens. There’s a recent story on Deseret News where a teen Tevan Randall Tobler starting receiving text from a supposed female he didn’t know who asked him to send an explicit photo of himself. He made the mistake of doing it and then was bribed with the threats of ruining his life with the photo. When he sent all the money that he had the person started telling him to just kill himself over and over again because his life was ruined and if he didn’t kill himself they would ruin his life. So he took his life. This is called “sextortion”. And apparently it’s happens a lot! The most important thing a parent can do is talk to their children first and foremost never to communicate with someone they don’t know. But also not to fall victim to extortion attempts. And children need to know no matter how embarrassing something they did is that it isn’t the end of the world and it can be fixed if you talk to your parents. In my opinion you shouldn’t allow apps where your kids can talk to strangers. I tell my kids to trust no one. Only allow actual friend to any social media. I’m an adult and I still deny any friend request if I don’t know them.

  6. 6
    Jan Truhler
    April 10, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Awesome article! Much needed help for a very complicated modern dilemma. As a former teacher & media specialist, this parent training was always an area that was so needed, yet sorely lacking.
    The “Bark” app is a must for today’s parents.

  7. 7
    Robin B.
    April 10, 2019 at 10:53 am

    I am so grateful we started long ago with our kids not taking phones in their rooms at all and not at night. I also love the Light the Fight podcast because it addresses some of these issues and lots of advice for parenting in this modern age.

  8. 8
    Danielle Tilly
    April 10, 2019 at 10:53 am

    We are very careful about which products we allow and only let the kids on the ones that have the best parental controls and timers set.

  9. 9
    Jamie
    April 10, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Thank you Jamie! This is so eye opening. All the time I’m worried about what is creeping into our home. We have a special needs son who spends the majority of his free time on YouTube. He used to watch movies/dvd’s but since he discovered YouTube and he can rewind his favorite 5 seconds of a movie or show over and over and over… Anyway, I know our situation is a little different (he’s never played with toys, you can’t just send him outside to play with friends, etc) but I’m still amazed at stuff he stumbles upon just scrolling through “recommended” videos. He watches a lot of Elmo and PBS Kids stuff so why does it ‘recommend’ stuff with violence and gore and whatever else. I almost feel lucky because many of my friends are dealing with much worse. The Internet has definitely been a blessing and a curse. There is so much educational and uplifting yet so much garbage too.

  10. 10
    Jennifer
    April 10, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Hello everyone,
    For now I have told my daughter that I can see everything she does on her kindle. Which isn’t necessarily true, but at her young age she believes me. Hopefully as she gets older I can find a good tool to use to really see everything. The school she goes to also has classes on how to protect your kids. Being involved is my number one way to keep on top of it.

  11. 11
    Emma
    April 10, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Lots of great tips! I love the idea paying or listening to podcasts. We made a lot of mistakes with our oldest, and we are doing things differently now, and with our second teenager. Some easy rules: 1) time limits of when they can use their phone, and other devices. It stays in our room from 9:30 PM until 5:00 am (seminary is early). 2) Devices are never allowed in bedrooms or bathrooms. 3) They can’t add or delete apps without permission. Apple makes this easy to do with parent controls.

  12. 12
    Lindsay
    April 10, 2019 at 11:46 am

    My kids are not allowed to have their own devices. My kids have to earn their screen time by reading for every minute they read they get a minute of screen time. The limit is 1 hour per day. They are only allowed to watch the you tube channels we approve and are only allowed to play app games and videos games that my husband and I have I both played and approved. My kids are not allowed to have phones or any of their own devices. We have an xbox one, iPod, iPad, laptop and my husband and my phones. They are able to use any of these devices and are able to text their friends from our phones. I make sure that I am always able to see the screen they are using.

  13. 13
    Sj Dc
    April 10, 2019 at 11:49 am

    as hard as it was exerting self control and restricting temptation to distract toddlers with technology and encouraging outdoors is the best. However, its also important to not impose and force and if a child is inclined towards the tech world, encouraging the same as there is a wealth of good learning there too

  14. 14
    Karen W
    April 10, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Great information! I would love to know at what age is a child ready for a phone? I’m sure some of it depends on your child’s maturity level but what’s a good estimate?

  15. 15
    Cindy K
    April 10, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    We are going to check into that Bark app!!

  16. 16
    Marci
    April 10, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    My kids don’t have phones until they are at least in Jr. High and no smart phones yet. I think one big thing that I forget is that if I’m on my phone or electronics a lot, they want to be or will be too. Intentional parenting is a must.

  17. 17
    Aimee
    April 10, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    I love the contract idea for them to sign before they get a cell phone. We have done this with the xbox. Even framed it and put in the playroom right by it so they can see it!

  18. 18
    Aimee
    April 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I love the contract idea for them to sign before they get a cell phone. We have done this with the xbox. Even framed it and put in the playroom right by it so they can see it.

  19. 19
    Katie
    April 10, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    My kids don’t have phones yet but it will be coming soon. I’m very concerned about how we will handle this new territory. I like the contract idea.

  20. 20
    Lizzy
    April 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Thank you for taking notes for all of us! I am excited to look into Bark and read the tech articles on today’smama.com

  21. 21
    Christie
    April 10, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I am definitely looking into BARK. We only have the youngest of our 5 children living at home but I still don’t want him to slip through the cracks.

  22. 22
    Sandra Henslee
    April 10, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    I have grown children and I agree with you that I would do things much differently when they were teens. We had very little knowledge then of the dangers involved. I am passing these ideas on to them for their young children.

  23. 23
    Heather McKnight
    April 10, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Currently I’ve kids ages 16 to five. I’m very strict with them not taking their phones into their rooms and bathrooms. Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to turn off all wifi to my house during certain times of the day especially at night when we’re tired and not the best with decision making. (There’s also that much needed break from all that wifi radiation stuff flying around our house and into our bodies.) I am not too into the idea of letting them pay for their own service because then they use that against you especially when you tell them that they’ve lost the privilege to have the phone due to broken rules. I do like the idea of making a contract with real consequences should they break the terms. I, for one, am very tired of smart phones being around our kids all of the time. They are instantly gratified when they want something instead of learning to be wait and be patient. I can’t stand how kids won’t socialize anymore. My opinion is that phones are for communications. They can use school or home computers to look up info if they need it. They don’t need to be staring at their phones all of the time. Put them down and go and play.

  24. 24
    Amy
    April 10, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    We charge our kids a portion of the cell phone bill already but I like the idea requiring them to listen to a certain amount of podcasts too. We will have to try that.

  25. 25
    Ronette
    April 10, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    My kids are teenagers and older. We love to play games but sometimes they don’t want to play board games so I subscribed to the Jack box games. These games use the players phones to make the answers appear on the screen. Really fun family interaction and they weren’t using there phones to do their own things.

  26. 26
    Linda
    April 10, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    This is a great blog post. I love the idea of a contract.

  27. 27
    Brknopf
    April 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Our girls are not allowed to take their devices to their rooms or into the bathroom. Only public usage. Also, we have FULL access or they get ZERO access.

  28. 28
    Erica
    April 10, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Our kids have to wait until high school to get a phone, but still have limits including they can’t be used in bedrooms, have to ask to download a new app, and we have to know their password. We use Qustodio to monitor searches, apps used, etc. and to set what times of day the device can be used. It sends a daily report that makes it easy to keep up with what they are doing online.

  29. 29
    Marcie
    April 10, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Do not allow children or teens to go to bed with any electronics in their rooms and that includes the phone.

  30. 30
    Jodi
    April 10, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    I saw Mindi McNight on Studio 5 today. It was so enlightening! I loved her view that just like teaching kids to drive, we need to teach them about technology, especially social media. We have to be involved and guide them so they can be better at critically thinking about how they use it. I especially love her saying, “Think twice, post once!”

  31. 31
    Kristen
    April 10, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    We are also of the group that does not allow phones after bedtime. Phones stay upstairs, kids sleep downstairs. We also have full access to their phone. If we see something happening we address it right away. No stewing or waiting.

  32. 32
    Heather
    April 10, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    We did not allow our kids to have their own phones until they were 11 or 12. We didn’t have a landline so before that we would have a “house” cell. They didn’t get to have social media until 13. Even though they are 17 & 19 we still frequently talk about responsible social media use. It is unbelievable what kids are doing with their phones & their accounts. That will haunt them later in life. Parent need to hold strong. Please don’t give them phones so early.

  33. 33
    Mary
    April 10, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    One lifesaver for my family is a well-written phone contract that gets reviewed frequently!

  34. 34
    Jessie C.
    April 10, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    My kids are still small yet we have been discussed how to handle this “technology” problem in coming days. I would love to learn more from all parents dealing with this.

  35. 35
    mami2jcn
    April 10, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    My kids are only allowed to use tablets for schoolwork.

  36. 36
    Rosie
    April 10, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    I love the comparison of apple slices to making it inviting for kids to be lured into other activities. We all love screen time, both educational and playtime, but it is good to have balance!

  37. 37
    Jenni Rice
    April 10, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    I’m definitely going to look into the Bark app! Lots of great advice and tools! Thanks!

  38. 38
    Neiddy
    April 11, 2019 at 4:41 am

    Thank you for sharing all these great tips. I’ll be checking out the Bark app. Thanks for the chance to win

  39. 39
    Kristie Dittbrenner-
    April 11, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Open communication and education is key. Talking with your children and explaining the dangers and why you have the rules that you have is so important. Let them be part of the solution on phone usage.

  40. 40
    P.J.
    April 11, 2019 at 7:01 am

    My niece is young, but loves to play on the ipad or our phones. While it’s great to keep her occupied when we have to get something else done (or have a few minutes of sanity!), our biggest concern is the amount she’s on it. We either set a timer or have a set event when she has to put it down and she’s used to the idea so she’ll (normally, there are some fits sometimes) close it and then put it back on the charger. She has my old ipad so it’s full of kid-appropriate games and nothing else. It stays in the living room so it can’t be abused.

  41. 41
    April 11, 2019 at 9:13 am

    I love this article, and it’s not just a problem with kids. Too many adults, use it as a babysitter for their kids or they use it to mentally tune out their kids. Thank you for wanting to help others out there by sharing your knowledge. Let’s help each other save our children and find a better balance!??

  42. 42
    Leanna Hiner
    April 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    I try to set a good example for my kids. No phones at meal times and homework must be finished before screen time. They must read two books not for school a month.

  43. 43
    Melissa M
    April 11, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    This article gives so much good information. I wish I would have known these things years ago! I will definitely look into the Bark app and I like the ‘no phones in the bedroom’ rule. Thanks for the post!

  44. 44
    Anjanette
    April 11, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    We tell our kids that they need to control technology and not let technology control them. If it is out of balance, we as parents intervene and correct it.

  45. 45
    Linda
    April 13, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    It is so important to keep track of what is happening to our children or in my case grandchildren when they use social media. Thank you for some great tips!

  46. 46
    Stacy
    April 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Only one of our children has a phone but the others have access to tablets. We ask that the electronics are turned in nightly to charge in our room. We have had passwords on them at times so they have to be given permission by us (through entering the password) to login.
    I like the idea of podcast listening, because it can then lead to family discussions.
    It’s definitely a challenge and one that has oft occurring changes as new technology continues to arrive.

  47. 47
    Steve Weber
    April 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Awesome article! I have 6 nieces and nephews – and it’s amazing how many times they ask to see my phone so they can play a game, watch a Youtube video, etc.. what ever happened to legos, lincoln logs and litebrite??

  48. 48
    Amy L
    April 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    These are all great ideas! We have our kids put their devices in our room to charge at night as well. We haven’t allowed our kids to have any social media apps (except the oldest once he turned 16 I think). They haven’t been bugged by that at all. All apps have to be approved by us, which Apple makes so easy, and that is really comforting. We need to work on our allowed time on devices, though. Looking forward to implementing some of these other ideas.

  49. 49
    Jennifer Petersen
    April 18, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Awesome article. I love the podcast idea for phone use. We check in all electronic devices in the evening and are still trying to navigate this whole new technical world. Thank you for opening up this conversation!

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