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22 June 2018

5 Tips for Parents: How to Use Technology Wisely at Home

Published by Tim Evans, Head of Educational Technology, Stamford American School-Hong Kong
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Technology is here to stay, especially with the rise of STEM or STEMinn education in schools such as Stamford American School Hong Kong. Parents are seeing more technology in their homes and also in their own jobs. However, parents are often unsure on how to help children to use technology responsibly and keep a balance between online and offline time. Here are some tips that are a great starting point for technology usage.

Tip one: Model good technology use.

Although this tip seems like common sense, it is often difficult due to the demand of work and the expectation of being constantly connected. By ensuring you build in offline time into your own day and communicate that with your children, they will see the value and benefits. This can be simply putting down your phone when engaging in conversations or doing offline activities. Whether you are reading a book, going to the gym or just taking a walk, letting your children be aware of your offline actions will encourage them to do the same-better yet, take them with you!

Tip Two: Learn with your kids

Rather than make technology your enemy, make it your friend. Taking time to explore new apps with your children will help you better understand what they are doing, allow you to learn about new technology yourself and allow you to spend time together while exploring your child’s interest. Also, being aware of the apps that support learning and those that don’t can help you better direct your child’s usage; giving more time to learning apps and limiting those that don’t offer educational benefit rather than trying to restrict all access.

Tip Three: Tech-free family time

Once a week, pencil-in a “tech-free family time” in your schedule. This can be a meal or excursion. This is a great way to encourage family time but also increase the quality of the time together. To help increase the success of outings, try planning in special activities ie. going to the beach to build a sand castle that looks the same as a photo you have found online.  A little extra planning goes a long way!

Tip Four: Have a device contract

Having a device usage contract allows parents and children to work through what responsible technology usage looks like in your family and ensure that everyone is aware. Also, drafting the contract together allows your child to feel empowered and understand the reasons you have for restrictions; rather than just saying “no”. Of course, in the end, the parent has the final say.

Tip Five: Encourage Non-Tech Activities

One great way to keep kids off their screens is to ensure that they have other activities to fill their time. This can come in a variety of forms: soccer, ballet, fencing and more! At Stamford, we offer 19 co-curricular activities to help develop children’s passions. These activities are also great ways to help children to develop their social skills and confidence.

These are just a few handy ways that parents can help their children to become more responsible digital citizens and make good choices when using technology. Of course, every family needs to follow what works best in their household in order to develop consistent habits.

You can also watch these tips and more tips for parents on our Youtube channel

About the Author

Tim Evans is the Head of Educational Technology at Stamford and part of our Innovation Team. He has been integrating technology in schools for 11 years. In addition to supporting students and teachers, he runs a series of workshops to help parents understand technology in schools and support their children at home-while also having fun!

In his free time, Tim can be found on the rugby field or actively on Twitter @edTechEvans and also regularly contributing to our school Facebook page.

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