As we kick off the month of December, many children hope that digital devices will be part of their holiday experience. From gift requests for new devices/games to school breaks that allow for extended game play and social media use, families often find themselves consumed with digital media throughout the holiday season.
With the hefty price tag associated with many of these devices/games and the all-consuming nature of some devices, games, and social media platforms, it is important that families step back and reflect on their gift giving plans and device-free ways to engage with children. This Holiday Gift Giving Tips video from Common Sense Media reminds families of three key ideas:
- Set expectations.
- Match the gadget to the kid.
- Enjoy tech with your kids.
For families looking to cut back on digital consumption this holiday season, Common Sense Media lists suggestions for limiting reliance on technology in the article, How Plugged-In Families Can Have a Device-Free(ish) Holiday. The article highlights ways that families can balance the use of digital devices with family fun:
- Schedule some daily tech time for the entire family while also setting up and enforcing time limits.
- Plan a device-free dinner.
- Explore the app store together to find family friendly apps and games.
- Involve your children in the process of setting up new devices.
- Enjoy technology together.
- Try some low-tech or no-tech versions of your favorite activities.
If families plan to purchase new devices for their children this holiday season, Common Sense outlines some things to consider in the video, 5 Questions to Consider Before Buying Tech for Your Kid.
- Is my child even ready for a device?
- Is this the right device for my child’s needs?
- Does it have educational value?
- Will I need to buy extra accessories?
- Does it come with parental control settings?
Regardless of how much time families spend on devices this holiday season, it is essential that they have conversations about Digital Citizenship and consider tools like family internet use contracts and parental controls to keep children safe online.
- Cyberbullying – Talk to your children about whether or not they have experienced or witnessed cyberbullying. Guide them through steps for dealing with cyberbullies and encourage them to speak up when they witness bullying/harassment.
- Digital Footprint – Help your children understand the permanency and impact of what they post online.
- Protecting Online Privacy – Assist your children with creating safe usernames/passwords and adjust privacy settings to keep their information safe.
- Intellectual Property – Remind your children that not everything on the internet is free for them to use. Talk to them about plagiarism, copyright, and fair use.
- Media Literacy – Help your children evaluate what they hear and see online. Talk to them about reliable sources or use TV and movies to teach them about media literacy.
- Family Internet Use Contracts and Parental Controls – Set up a family internet use contract or parental controls on your children’s devices to establish clear expectations and monitor your child’s online activity.
With a little planning and reflection, families can thoroughly enjoy the holiday season and still incorporate devices and media into this celebratory time of year.