Posted by: Ed Brazee | June 12, 2013

The family that uses technology together…

CC BY by blakespot

CC BY by blakespot

Recently, I interviewed Ray, father of a tech-savvy family to ask him about the digital challenges of his busy crew. Ray, a technology professional and Amy (mother), a substitute teacher, have five children ranging in age from 9 to 23. Needless to say, Ray and Amy have had many opportunities to sharpen their parenting skills around technology issues. As immersed in technology as they are in the normal course of events, Ray and Amy’s family enjoy whitewater rafting, taking them away from technology for a much-needed break.

Here is how they live with technology in their home.

What access does your family have to technology?

At home we have a family computer, a smart TV, Xbox360, Wii, and a family iPad. Dad has a smartphone, two desktop computers for work, and a work laptop. Mom has an iPod and a Kindle. Heather and Nik both have laptops, smartphones, and iPods. Heather also has a Nook. Meri has her own laptop, iPhone, iPod, and Kindle. Nolan has an iPod and his MacBook from school. Nason has an iPod. We have a built-in GPS in one car and a detached GPS for the other car.

What family guidelines do you have for your children’s use of technology.

We limit not only the times of day they can be on the computer, or use any other electronics, but also how long they can be on it. We don’t allow the younger kids to have electronics in their bedrooms. The family computer is in a common area. These rules don’t vary much until they turn 18. After that they are an adult and hopefully will make good decisions. They can earn or lose “electronic time” depending on their behavior.

What technology issues do you discuss as a family?

We’ve talked about being responsible online. Don’t post anything that you would not want to see on the front page of a national newspaper. Don’t talk to strangers. If you don’t know them in real life, then you probably shouldn’t talk to them online. I’ve explained how technology is a tool and to not let it control you or your time. You have to use good time management. We’ve talked about not hiding behind the computer. Talk to people as if they were right there in front of you. We’ve explained that as long as they are under age, that we have the right (and will from time to time), check on what they are doing.

What are the biggest concerns for you as parents regarding your children, technology, and the future?

Time management, etiquette and making smart decisions. There have been times for some of the children, and at different ages, I have had to keep a close watch on their activities. They find ways using different devices to get access to the Internet, whether at home or hotspots around town. I’ve had to use monitoring software, locked down the router for their MAC addresses so either they didn’t have Internet access at all or only during certain hours. I’ve had to follow their Internet “breadcrumbs” to see what they are up to and follow their time line of events. Once I see they are making good decisions and being responsible and ethical, then I back off. For some of my kids that process happened sooner rather than later. For others they never learned this lesson.

Final Words by Ray

It is very beneficial to have someone in the household who is tech savvy. I am the go-to-person to fix hardware, make sure programs are up-to-date, install new programs, deal with viruses, integrate technology, set-up hardware and software, perform backups, and more. It’s like I’m running my own data center here at my house! I believe that I’m more advanced than most people and can only imagine how they struggle with this. I have known people that don’t know how to deal with a simple hardware fix or virus and buy a new computer only to have it happen again a year later!

How do you handle these issues in your home?

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Responses

  1. I would add that it’s a good idea to Google your child’s name periodically. We were quite surprised when we did that and found our daughter’s volleyball coach had uploaded pictures and schedules for all the world to see. He wasn’t malicious, just simply uninformed about the dangers that posed for the children. Stay vigilant, and keep them safe!

    • An excellent idea to get kids used to paying attention to their online presence. Ultimately, they will be responsible for their (digital) reputation, but parents need to help them with that. Thanks for your interview and this important comment.


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