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Technology and Elementary Age Kids

“Life was much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits.” -Author Unknown

Parents consistently come into my office with concerns about how to help their children navigate technology. Many children begin engaging with online content at a relatively young age both for entertainment and in imitation of the adults in their lives.

Often, YouTube is one of the first places they explore as there is much interesting and age appropriate content here. AND there are dangers lurking on this platform as well.

There are a number of ways to ensure your children only watch age appropriate content:

(This focuses on Elementary School/ and Middle School Age children)

  1. Caregivers Monitor Browsing. For example, for them to watch something they need to first bring it to you for approval. Especially for elementary school kids. If they want to watch 15 minutes, you can come up with a list of what they will watch. I discourage browsing for younger age children, especially because the more browsing there is, the more likely they will stumble onto something that may be inappropriate and damaging.

  2. Conversation About Trust. The conversation with your children might go something like: "We are trusting you that you are watching what you say you are watching. If something comes on that is different then what you were expecting or concerns you, we trust that you will come find and tell us so we can be sure you are safe on the technology. If you stumble on something that you know is inappropriate, it is your job to share that with us. We will not be angry. If we find out you were watching an inappropriate video and didn't tell us, then we will restrict your ability to watch." With older children, middle school and up, the conversation can and should be more transparent because of their age. Middle schoolers tend to see inappropriate things because they also share with each other as a coping mechanism. If one sees something uncomfortable, they will often show their friends.

  3. Parental Controls Business Insider did this piece around Parental Controls and Youtube. Although there is no app better than parent involvement and open communication, doing some research about best technological controls is a really good idea.

  4. Check their online history of what they are looking at often.

  5. Time Limits Consistently. Technology can be extremely addicting and trigger irritability in children. Notice your child's ability to disconnect after the allotted time. If they become irritable it may mean they were engaged with technology for too long a period. Consider shortening the time.

Our children engaging in technology is inevitable. How we help them navigate it beginning as soon as they are using it is vital.


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