Family life in the age of selfies and Snapchat is challenging as technology outpaces our ability to keep up with what our kids are seeing and doing online.
US podcaster, author, and speaker Lisa Hendey has some advice for us parents that she has earned through hard-won experience as a mum of two now grown-up sons.
“I’m not the perfect mum nor the perfect Catholic,” she says.
“But one of the things about being a mum of older kids is it gives you a vantage point to say here are some things we did really well and here are some things that maybe you could do a little differently.”
She says the most important thing to remember is that technology will change over time, but maintaining great relationships will ensure every aspect of our lives says on track, she says.
She also recommends making our own faith life and those of our kids our top priorities.
That said, she does have some great practical tips:
Technology usage should be a privilege, not a ‘right’
Technology is a valuable learning tool, but children should demonstrate a maturity level that demonstrates their spiritual, emotional and intellectual readiness to employ it before they upgrade their technology use.
Model appropriate use
For example, a parent should never text while driving, should avoid using technology during family meals, and should act responsibly on social media.
Consider limiting technology use in private areas at home
Our children had a ‘no screens in the bedroom’ rule and devices were used in common areas of the home with screens facing into the room. You don’t have to use our rule, but it’s good to develop your own standards, strategies and rules for device and platform usage.
Act with respect for your children’s privacy and safety when using social media
We’re establishing a digital footprint for our children, in many cases even prior to their birth. While we should supervise their use of technology, we should also respect their privacy when it comes to our own usage.
Teach them what to do and why
Just in the same way that we wouldn’t send a child out to drive a car without proper instruction, we shouldn’t provide them to access to technology without education and spiritual formation.
Conduct regular, random checks on their technology tools
Parents can make use of the many available resources to be aware of questionable apps, platforms and media providers.