Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Technology presents new challenges in raising well rounded kids. I think technology has always been challenging for parents even back to my grandparents days. Kids will always want to do the new and exciting things rather than what they are supposed to be doing and what is good for them. Homework and chores are always challenged by technology.
Horses and books got my grandpa in trouble. My Dad's generation was the first to have cars. When I was growing up, my parents had to deal with TV and early video games. Now my wife and I are dealing with computers, the internet, and cell phones.
My oldest son is a good kid (for a 17 year old). Many of the struggles with him have been around technology. He would rather play computer games or surf the internet or text message (he had 15,000 text messages one month), than do his homework, or interact with his family. He figured out how to bypass the school's firewall (use IP address instead of name), and he is not afraid to experiment and figure out how to push the limits set for him.
He got in a bind at school because he got a teacher's ID and password. He didn't do anything with it other than change his access privilege to administrator. Of course he got caught. As always, experimenting and pushing the limits is the norm. So, what is a parent to do? Here are a few things that my wife and I try to do, some with more success than others:
- The only computer without a password is in the living room. No access to the internet in 'private' places. The computer in the living room is connected to the internet through a firewall which I control. I only turn access to the internet on when asked and turn it off when they are done. This prevents anyone from sneaking onto the internet. This is fairly easy and inexpensive to do with most modern firewalls. For example, my firewall cost about $49.00 and is a wireless access point as well. There is a screen in the setup menu to allow or deny computers access to the internet.
- We have a no computer, no TV, no video game night once every couple of weeks. We play board games, play outside, go for walks, read, etc. This is as hard on my wife and I as it is on our kids! We are as addicted to technology as can be, but we can show that it is important to take a break by being willing to do that ourselves.
- We play video games together. We have a family Rock Band and the kids know all the words to those great 80's and 90's songs!
How do you deal with technology and your teens? I would love to hear.