The Power of Moms: Raising Responsible Tech-Positive Kids
By: Ariane Robinson
Last Sunday as I sat down to relax and read a favorite book, I heard the familiar sound of arguing between my kids. Then the rush of little feet coming down the stairs one after the other as my daughter yelled at my son, “I’m telling Mom!” and he promptly yelled back, “No, I’m telling Mom!” The daily race was on to determine who could reach me first and plead their case. As they reached me, talking a mile a minute and making accusations about the mean things the other child had said to them, I chuckled to myself. Then without a thought I heard my mother’s own words roll off my tongue: “If you two can’t say something nice to one another, then you shouldn’t say anything at all!”
In that moment, when I morphed into my mother, I considered not only my own mother’s influence on me, but also my influence on my own children. What legacy and actions will my own children find ingrained in them because of my example?
We live in a digital age, and being a great example for our children presents certain challenges that mothers of the past have never had to face before. The way we handle these challenges will have a big influence on the behaviors and attitudes of future generations, and shape how technology impacts their relationships. As mothers, we must do our best to make sure that our words match our actions, especially when it comes to our own technology use.
Here are 5 ways we, as mothers, can model healthy tech habits for our kids:
Limit Your Screen Time. This is something that we are constantly preaching to our children, but are we doing it ourselves? Are we glued to our phones? Texting while we are playing with our kids, or during meal times? Don’t let every second of your day be consumed with technology. Find some time where you are not distracted by your device to talk with your child and have some time together.
Quality time does not have to be elaborate or planned weeks in advance. It can be as simple as taking a walk together or playing your child’s favorite game. These small acts lead to a beautiful deepening bond as parents share their child’s excitement and enter their world. This leads to greater empathy between parent and child, and can help children to overcome frustrations and anxieties. Simply put, spending time with our children lets them know they are important to us. As mothers we would be wise to remember that our children are young for such a short period of time. Let’s put our phones down and make some happy memories!
Follow the Tech Rules You Have in Your Home. If the rule in your home is that no electronic devices are allowed in the bedroom at night, then make sure you set a good example for your kids and follow that rule as well. A recent study showed that it is easier for kids to follow household technology rules when families develop them together and when parents live by them as well (Nauert, 2016). Respecting the rules in your home will help your child to not only take them seriously, but to also have greater respect for you. They willview you as someone who is authentic and means what they say. When our children respect us, they are more likely to come talk with us when they have concerns or worries. Love and respect are the foundations of a healthy parent-child relationship.
Don’t Overshare on Social Media. Social media can be a great place for moms to connect with family and friends. Mothers can also find wonderful support from other moms via social media sites. However, as moms we must remember that our social media accounts should not become our diaries. Experts are reminding parents that “sharenting” can put your children at risk even when they’re older. It’s impossible to know who may be Googling their names and checking out social media accounts down the road. So, even if your child is young consider whether you’re providing too much info when it comes to your children. Because, remember, the internet never forgets (Scileppi, 2018). It can also be very embarrassing to our children if we share things that they are not comfortable having published on the internet.
Post Real Images Online. We live in a world where we feel pressure to edit or alter our images to what we think is our “best selves’ instead of our real selves.” One study found that “nearly 60% of parents with children under 18 edit their pictures before posting them on social networks”(Renfrew Center, 2014). As mothers we want to be cautious of sending the message to our children that the way they look must be altered or changed.
Instead, we want to help them to recognize that there is not just one type of beauty and that we love them for who they are right now. This will help them to develop a healthy body image, and avoid the depression and insecurities that can develop when we obsessively compare ourselves to others. We should make sure that our children know through our language both online and offline, that we support and encourage other women and mothers. As mothers, it can be easy to get caught in the comparison game, but we should do our best to avoid unhealthy comparisons and speak positively about our own bodies and the bodies of others.
Use Technology to Learn and Improve Your Life. As mothers we can teach our children that technology can be used for more than just gaming and social media, and that there are lots of educational resources available online. For example, most colleges and universities offer online classes that can be taken to learn new skills or improve upon the skills we already have. There are also many free or low-cost resources such as Khan Academy and Massive Open Online Courses. As mothers we can help foster a love of learning in our children as they see us seek out and use technology to learn new things. We can teach them that technology can be used as a tool to better ourselves and the lives of those around us. We can show them how to use technology to fill their hearts and minds with goodness rather than gossip or harmful images. We can teach them how to control technology, instead of allowing it to control us.
This Mother’s Day, take some time to thank the women and mothers in your life who have inspired and guided you. But also take time to reflect on your own example and to evaluate how it is affecting the next generation. As we focus on deliberate, intentional parenting in a digital world, we can influence our children for good!
For fun, simple ways to begin the conversation about how to use tech for good, and the importance of healthy tech habits check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good.
Or Check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age–A simple, super-helpful guide that gives YOU the words to talk about tough, timely topics of today (like racism, integrity, agency, healthy sexuality, LGBTQI issues, social media, and more).
Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She has a degree in Marriage and Family Studies and is a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH, a program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.
Renfrew Center (2014) Afraid To Be Your Selfie? Survey Reveals Most People Photoshop Their Images. Retrieved on August 29, 2018 from http://renfrewcenter.com/news/afraid-be-your-selfie-survey-reveals-most-people-photoshop-their-images
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Kids Expect Parents to Follow Technology Rules Too. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 29, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/03/09/kids-expect-parents-to-have-strong-technology-etiquette/100225.html
Scileppi, T. (2018, March). The dangers of parental oversharing on social media. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://www.nyparenting.com/stories/2018/3/dangers-of-parental-oversharing-on-social-media-2018-03.html