It's inevitable -- your kids will want a cell phone, iPad, Xbox, or whatever else every other kid at school seems to have. Technology is everywhere -- that is a given. We own it as parents and we most likely allow our children to use ours, before they have their own. They have access to it in school with iPads and smart boards.
While it is the way of the future and will prove necessary to our kids in a lot of their future endeavors -- what happened to just being a kid? In my house, my son is entitled to nothing but my love, food and a roof over his head. What happened to a child not being entitled to anything that isn't a basic human need; or that he hasn't earned?
Kids care too much about how they measure up to their peers in our modern technological era. "Who cares if you're popular or what other people think or have. Now give me your iPod and go outside for crying out loud," is what we ought to be saying to our children.
We are not their friends. We are the "grown-ups" who are supposed to teach them about value, integrity, authenticity, empathy and leadership. Encourage them to learn something new that has nothing to do with technology. Go to a park, a library, a zoo or a nature center. Have them read the plaques and posted facts about what they are seeing.
Every day of their young life is a chance to connect with others and their own self. How about writing a letter to a grandparent, packing up old toys to donate or just having an actual conversation over dinner?
- Set no cellphone zones -- dinner table, family events, etc.
- Set a time limit on usage of a device. When my son became obsessed with Mine Craft, he got two 15-minute sessions per day. No rollover if he didn't use up the time either.
- Trade a written or oral repost for use of technology. They can have the iPad, but they better come back with historical facts on the topic of your choosing.
- Teach them how to start a blog or YouTube channel about their passions, using their technology -- and monetize it. This kid is doing three million views, so you know he's making scrilla.
- Have a good old fashion garage sale or lemonade stand. Have them sell all of the crap they no longer play with or need. Discovery Kids makes a kit to construct a stand, complete with money box and signage. My son raised $300.00 doing these activities.
- Insist on eye contact. This is huge in our modern technological world. Their noses are always buried in something. Eye contact forces them to look up and connect with a conversation.
- Teach them to be neighborly. If you have elderly people in your neighborhood, encourage them to lend a hand. The 85-year-old woman who can barely walk -- go get her mail and bring it to the door.
- Have family game nights. Board games, a deck of cards or even create your own game to encourage interaction with others.
They may fight you on it at first and trust me, I have experienced it firsthand. Setting limits and going against the norm might make you uncool in the moment, but when you watch the turn around just one tech-free day per week; you will see a totally different child.
Lisa Schmidt is a relationship coach in Detroit, MI and the author of her own blog. She streams regularly on Periscope and is contributor for several online publications. Relationship or Parenting questions can also be sent to her directly Ask Lisa Here