Mamas and papas, it’s important to keep monitoring technology use when kids enter their teens. Continue to limit technology time, and remind them to evaluate the values of what they watch, hear and play. Promote physical activity. In social situations, require them to turn off technology, put it away, and use the manners you’ve taught them – make eye contact, greet others, listen attentively and make polite conversation. Shyness or being an introvert is not an excuse for poor manners.
At every age (not just adolescence), that includes not letting your kids tune out on music, games or movies when riding in the family vehicle; don’t “buy” yourself an easy break by fostering a tune-out. That may lead you to wonder, later, why your children don’t talk to each other or to you. Even on long trips, make sure your kids spend at least half their time talking to the people in the car; reading, drawing, or writing; or watching the scenery go by. Daydreaming develops more creativity and intelligence than does repetitive use of technology.Walk-the-talk you give your kids about technology. Deliberately choose physically active and socially-engaging activities. Revolve your life around face-to-face encounters and real life objects, not around your cell phone, iPod, computer and TV. Turn away from technology to give your children full attention. Show them you can turn technology off, put it away, and limit its use. And, please, if you don’t want your kids to play violent, life-demeaning video games – don’t bring them into the house for yourself.
We adults – mamas and papas, as well as everyone else -- must also remember the manners our mamas taught us.
In social situations – at home and elsewhere – we must limit our use of the phone, the iPhone, the computer, the whatever. Immediately answering every text, email and phone call does not make us more important. For most of us, it just means we can’t set boundaries.
In social situations, when we need to respond to a call or message, we apologize profusely to the people we’re with, leave the room, If possible, and efficiently deal with the interruption. Then we put the technology away, and return ourselves and our attention to the people waiting on us.
Like me, many of you would never deliberately use technology to tune people out. But perhaps, like me, you’ve done it unintentionally.
I’ll be talking on the phone and happen to be near my laptop. I tell myself I’ll “just do this little thing” on the computer while I’m on the phone, believing I’m still fully engaged in the conversation. Only after the other person says a sudden good-bye do I realize I've done it again. My friend heard in my voice that I wasn’t paying full attention, so -- more graciously than I deserved – he or she ended the call. Worst of all, I’d just said, "You’re not important enough to earn my full attention.” Once again, I resolve not to do it again. I’m still learning.It will be our ongoing challenge to use technology, and not let it use us.
Mamas and papas, don’t let yourselves by ruled by technology.Please don’t let your babies grow up to be ruled by it either.