How to Raise Kids With Technology

Oct 17, 2023

As we wade through the digital era, the age-old question of how to raise children has morphed into a more nuanced discussion: How do we raise kids with technology? This question, brimming with complexities, reflects our collective journey as parents, educators, and conscientious members of society.

Recently, I embarked on a personal mission to delve deeper into this topic, seeking insights and intelligence by exploring diverse experiences and perspectives. Intelligence, as someone eloquently explained to me, stems from the breadth of cases and scenarios you understand about a specific subject. My quest has involved everyone from fellow parents on the sidewalk to experts in the field, like a certain head of educational technology at Microsoft whom I had the fortune to meet during a flight.

In this article, I’m excited to share with you some intriguing strategies I’ve encountered. More importantly, I invite you to contribute to this vital conversation by sharing your own experiences and rules for integrating technology into your children’s lives. Together, we can compile a wealth of knowledge, making us all a bit wiser on this subject.

1. Geographic Restrictions on Phone Use: Bill Tallarico, a colleague with whom I share office space, introduced a fascinating rule for his children’s phone use. They were allowed mobile phones but with a catch: the phones could never ascend beyond the first floor. Whether they were charging or in use, the devices were confined to the ground level, prohibiting their presence in bedrooms or basements. This strategy emphasizes autonomy within boundaries, a concept I find reassuring amidst the unsettling notion of young teenagers having unbridled access to the digital world.

2. Balancing Tech with Reading: During an enlightening conversation on a plane, a tech expert from Microsoft shared his family rule: a one-to-one ratio of technology use to reading time. An hour of reading warranted an hour of video games. However, adaptable as kids are, they stretched this rule to its limits, often leading to marathon reading sessions followed by equal gaming binges. This ingenuity, albeit impressive, required an amendment to the rule to maintain a balanced lifestyle. It goes to show that while setting boundaries is crucial, anticipating creative loopholes is equally important.

3. A Unique Agreement on Phone Ownership: Another compelling approach came from a mother I met at a conference. She had an agreement with her young daughter: the child could request a phone when she found herself in a scenario without any adults or someone with a phone nearby—a situation symbolically akin to being stranded on an island. This agreement, rooted in practicality, delayed the child’s phone ownership until she was around 11 or 12 years old.

Besides these real-life cases, I came across a thought-provoking book titled “Indistractable” a few years back. The premise? It’s neither feasible nor advisable to keep children completely away from technology. Instead, the goal should be to teach them the art of self-control—to use technology as a tool rather than letting it become their master.

The anecdotes and rules mentioned above are but drops in the vast ocean of parental experiences. They are not definitive answers but rather conversation starters. Each family must navigate through their unique dynamics, challenges, and values.

That’s why your input is invaluable. Please, share your insights, rules, or strategies in the comments below. How do you ensure that technology is a healthy enhancement, rather than a disruptive crutch, in your child’s development? By pooling our collective wisdom, we can each expand our understanding and approach this aspect of parenting with greater confidence and insight.

Thank you for your engagement in this ongoing conversation. Here’s to empowering our children to thrive in this digital age!