Parenting in the Tech World

By RJ Manradgh, LPC, NCC, CPCS | January 22, 2024

Parenting in the tech world is hard. Figuring out how to balance encouraging a healthy relationship with technology and safeguarding your child’s mental well-being has become increasingly difficult. This article offers insightful recommendations and practical tips, including defining key terms, implementing effective behavioral plans, and addressing cultural influences. With better insights and strategies to navigate the complexity of technology and parenting, parents can create positive digital experiences for their children.

How Can Parents Build a Healthy Relationship Between Their Children and Technology Without Compromising Mental Well-being? 

Defining terms like technology, social media, and video games is the first step to having a common language for productive conversations

Consider how you are being a digital role model and set limits on personal tech use. Your child/teen will observe how you manage technology. 

What Are Strategies for Implementing and Enforcing Behavioral Plans for Technology Based on Different Age Groups? 

Regardless of age, gaining your child’s buy-in is vital. Practical strategies involve collaboration and compromise. 

Moderation is key, especially when transitioning from a proactive approach in pre-teens to a more negotiation-based strategy during adolescence.

What Signs Should Parents Be Aware of That May Indicate Their Child is Experiencing Withdrawal or Negative Effects From Social Media Use? 

Parents should look for increased irritability, changes in appetite, diet, sleep, academic decline, hygiene changes, or relationships. 

Make sure you are checking the facts and working collaboratively with your child. Are they not sleeping because of social media or is there something else happening?

How Can Parents Initiate Open Conversations With Their Children About Their Online Experiences and Address Any Concerns They Might Have? 

Initiating open conversations involves first understanding the child’s online interests. Are they online and learning a new skill? Are they scrolling endlessly on TikTok? Take the time to understand how your child spends their time online and what the function of the behavior is. 

Acceptance with a nonjudgmental stance is key to encouraging your child to share concerns. 

The HUG approach—Hear, Understand, Give feedback—facilitates effective communication.

Are There Particular Types of Negative Tech Experiences That Pose a Higher Risk to Children’s Mental Health, and How Can Parents Preemptively Address These Risks?  

Cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, excessive screen time, and the “highlight reel” phenomenon can pose risks. 

Preemptive actions involve proactive parental engagement and creating replacement behaviors. If you ask them to spend less time online, how will they spend that time in a way that is still fulfilling to them?

How Should Parents Support a Child Navigating Negative Tech Experiences?

Parents can be good digital role models, use validation and a nonjudgmental stance, and create a soft space to land for a child navigating a negative tech experience so that they know they can approach their parents. 

How Can Parent Balance Staying Informed About Their Children’s Online Activities Without Invading Their Privacy? 

Use tools like Bark to help protect your kids online, educate yourself on new gaming trends, and be aware of the different social apps. 

Discuss the difference between privacy and safety with your child to build trust.

Are There Any Age-appropriate Guidelines for Screen Time, and How Do These Guidelines Evolve as Children Grow and Mature? 

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, up to the age of 5, parents should limit screen time to an hour or two

For ages 7-12, encourage non-digital hobbies but allow for compromise. 

For adolescents between the ages of 13-18, negotiate about how much tech use they can have while emphasizing balance. 

How Do Cultural and Societal Factors Influence the Relationship Between Technology Use and Children’s Mental Health, and How Should Parents Navigate These Influences? 

Be aware that your child may be exposed to different cultural and societal factors outside the home.

Openly discuss how their friends use technology to understand better the influences they may be experiencing.

Collaborate with other parents and the school to encourage connections outside of tech.

What Role Do Schools Play in Supporting Parents in Managing Their Child’s Technology Use?

Schools can help build digital literacy, offer resources and workshops, and encourage tech-free extracurricular activities. 

Encourage your child to participate in in-person activities provided by the school, such as clubs or athletics. 

How Do Parents Stay Educated and Engaged in Their Children’s Digital Lives? 

Maintaining open communication and questions to check the facts before you jump to assumptions. 

Parenting in the tech world requires a thoughtful and proactive approach. It is important to maintain open communication, active engagement, and strategic planning in managing your child’s technology use. By defining terms, setting limits, and staying informed about online activities, parents can create a supportive environment that encourages positive digital experiences. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology, parents must adapt, collaborate, and prioritize their child’s mental health. With the right strategies in place, parents can help guide their children through the complexities of the digital world while safeguarding their overall well-being.

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Author

  • RJ Manradgh, LPC, NCC, CPCS

    Hillside Therapist - RJ is a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing as a therapist for five years with children and teens. RJ has a wide range of work experience, including residential, partial hospitalization, in home and private practice for 3 years. RJ is skilled at treating suicidal behavior/thoughts, anxiety, depression, self harm behaviors, PTSD, behavioral issues, and interpersonal conflicts. RJ was intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy at the Foundation Training in January of 2018 in Hilton Head, SC with Shari Manning, Ph.D and Elizabeth LoTempio, Psy.D through Treatment Implementation Collaborative. In addition, RJ was intensively trained in DBT-PTSD to treat Complex PTSD in Santa Monica, CA with Martin Bonus, MD in February 2020.

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