How to Guide Children in a Tech-Driven World by Nancy Gonsalves-Robertson, MA LMFT

Written by: Nancy Robertson MA, LMFT Published on: October 6, 2021

If you are constantly talking, texting, or checking your mail, your children will do the same.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This quote has been attributed to Voltaire, the Bible, and even Spider Man. I think we can apply it today to the great power technology has given us. We have the ability to do amazing things with the click of a button or the installation of an app, but we also have a responsibility to our children to protect them from the risks technology possesses.

It is a safe bet that many kids received holiday presents of video games, Xboxes, smartphones, and computers. In this ever-changing and fascinating techno world, how can parents monitor their children on these devices? Sure, it’s amusing when your toddler finds Grammy’s picture on your phone and taps the screen to call her, but these toddlers become teens who know more about Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat than you or I do. 

Parents are used to being involved in school activities and sports, but when it comes to social media, kids have a clever way of shutting parents out.

They use acronyms, such as KPC for “keeping parents clueless” or POS for “parent over shoulder.”

Teens have an ever-changing list of these acronyms and icons.

One parent I talked with had no qualms about installing software so he could monitor his boys. He also made sure that they used their devices in an open area of the house. He didn’t want to read every word they were texting, but he was aware that cyberbullying and online predators can be a real danger. The bottom line is parents want to keep their children safe. 

Set a Good Example

Limiting and monitoring kids’ technology use helps to keep them connected to the world around them rather than the fantasies of gaming and “friends” they’ve never met. Establishing tech-free zones in the home or even tech-free days where EVERYONE puts away their devices sets a good example. You can even throw in a sit-down family meal or board games.

Really, setting a good example is the BEST way to help children navigate their way through the technology maze.

I recently saw a mom in the grocery store continuously talking on her phone as she pushed her cart up and down the aisles. Her little girl, who appeared to be about four years old, wandered aimlessly behind. When I stopped to talk with her, the child’s face lit up, and she flashed me a bright smile. 

If you are constantly talking, texting, or checking your mail, your children will do the same. It’s also a good idea to show children that tech devices are tools, not toys, and definitely not appendages. They can be used to promote learning and creativity, but they should not be the only source for a social life. 

I love having Facebook friends, but nothing takes the place of interacting with friends, hearing them laugh, and seeing the expressions on their faces. Many children are missing out on this as they become isolated with their games and devices. Again, as parents, you can be the example for responsible, limited use.

Maybe there needs to be a warning label on technology packages: “The objects on this device may appear to be more real than they are!” 

Nancy Robertson MA, LMFT

Nancy Robertson is a licensed psychotherapist and has been counseling and coaching in California and Texas for over 25 years. She is committed to helping people find the joy and fulfillment that she believes everyone deserves.