Remember those simple times when we sent the kids outside to play and we knew they would be discovering nature, playing a game or interacting with friends?
In a world saturated with mobile technology, grandparenting can be a bit more complicated. When children venture out into the community, chances are they have a device in hand or someone they are with has a device that they both can access. In addition to the fact that they aren’t connecting with nature (or each other for that matter), kids may be putting themselves in other dangerous situations online.
Since the average age for getting a phone is now 10 years old, children are accessing a variety of new material without really understanding what they’re doing or seeing, and doing so without any parents or grandparents nearby to supervise.
In accordance with mental health awareness month, Common Sense Media recently polled over 1,200 parents and teens to find out how the saturation of cell phones and other mobile devices in family life is playing out in homes and in child-parent relationships. Their findings were conclusive that technology is changing the dynamics of our family relationships. Results indicated that one out of every two teens feels addicted to their mobile device. In addition, cyberbullying and sexting are creating a host of other problems including anxiety, depression, and sexual exploitation.
“One out of every two teens feels addicted to their mobile device.”
The good news is that there are steps we can take to make sure your grandkids are safe and less likely to feel addicted to their devices. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a contract such as this one www.netnanny.com so that everyone is on the same page about tech usage.
- Educate yourself about the sites and apps your grandchildren are using.
- Use parental control software to block sites or dangerous apps, and monitor their time online.
- Create a tech basket where kids put devices during certain times (maybe every time they’re at Nana’s house).
The world is changing and there’s not a lot we can do about it. However, staying open and educated to new ideas and setting boundaries can help us to connect with our grandchildren in a way that they will remember for years to come. Smart grandparents are texting, FaceTiming, enjoying online games, or sharing videos with their grandkids in a new, fun way.
This article originally appeared in GRAND – The Lifestyle Magazine for Today’s Grandparents. Click here for a free GRAND subscription.
Image via Jonathan Mold on Flickr.