School is so different from when I was a kid- in large part to the boom in technology. I remember typing English lit papers on our dinosaur computer (even by standards then, it was a dinosaur) with the spindled printer paper. The computer lab at my small-town highschool was fairly new, and I didn’t have the foresight to see how important taking a computer class would be for my future. Fortunately, I was a kid and a quick learner. My college years grew my skills immensely- from using email to word processors to the internet. My young married years quickly acquainted me with social media, and now, here I am, writing a blog and posting videos to YouTube (click HERE for a tour of our homeschool room!).
Fast forward to 2018, and here I am, a parent, and my kids can work remotes, video games and Minecraft in circles around me. Trying to navigate their technology usage is not only a challenge, but a chore. And yet, in some ways it is a beautiful blessing. Here are three thoughts that I have regarding technology in the home/homeschool classroom:
As our kids are getting older, we find ourselves teaching more difficult subjects, checking more assignments, and recording completed work. For this reason, I have come to appreciate the technological resources available to us more and more. We have taken advantage of CD-ROM teaching cd’s: a Spanish program to guide the kids through learning a foreign language, and even entire math curriculums for our oldest girls. We did this: one, because they were struggling at the upper levels with their former curriculum; two, because it was far more captivating and rewarding to use the computer program; and three, because it automatically graded their day’s work, saving mom and dad a ton of time! As a bonus, the kids look forward to using the computer interspersed between their other subjects. It’s a nice break from textbook learning.
If our kids are going to have access to the internet, they MUST have accountability. There are tons of ways to go about this, but some of my favorites are:
- Kindle Fire Tablets: These tablets are inexpensive and have easy-to-use parental controls. You can set a curfew for your kids and control what hours of day they have the ability to use the tablet. You can easily limit what kind of access they have to the internet, videos, apps, shopping, books, music, etc. You create a parental control password and enter it to change any of the settings at any time. While this is not a perfect system for keeping kids safe or out of trouble, it definitely goes a long way.
- Covenant Eyes: This is a web based company that can filter all your technology, as well as send emails to accountability partners of your choice, highlighting websites of concern. This allows parents to see and visit websites their kids are visiting and discuss with them the wisdom of their choices (or lack thereof). This is great accountability for parents, too.
There are a lot of great reasons to limit the amount of time that kids are in front of screens: increasing physical activity, the addiction factor (the addiction factor of screen time has been compared to the addictiveness of some illegal drugs- you can Google it), the radiation concerns of people being in proximity to tablets, phones, lap tops, etc. for hours a day and the concern for a link to cancer and disease, the lack of social interaction with others sitting right next to them, and the list can go ON, and ON, and ON… Even at our kids’ annual checkup this week at the doctor, the information sheets sent home with them recommended no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. So, that being said, there is good reason for creating limits for the use of technology. Some ideas we have employed are:
- We have a designated hour each day when the kids can use tablets or computers. This includes video games, email, video chat, etc. This way we can easily keep track of when they are on technology and not taking advantage of our inattentiveness.
- Before the kids can utilize their hour for technology, they must complete all of the day’s assignments, do their daily chore, practice their piano homework, and read silently. If they fulfill their responsibilities, they get their hour or so. (They can and will take advantage of mom and dad’s failure to hold them accountable- so I have to be diligent to check over their schoolwork. This is an area we are constantly working on.)
- Extra hard work in school will gladly be rewarded with a bit of extra time on technology. For example, our son is extremely self motivated to finish work quickly so that he can have more time on the tablet. We are happy to oblige a bit more time if he has worked hard, worked well (quality work) and with a good attitude!
So there you have it. We are learning and growing right with the kids. What benefits, boundaries and accountability tools have you used in your home with technology?PLEASE, comment below! Your thoughts and experiences are of value to us and can be a blessing to others.
Keep Doing Life Deliberately!