In the last 30 years our world has become increasingly electronic. Kids seem to be innately attracted to devices and new technology. Don’t believe me? Try using your smart phone in front of a kid.
Electronics make life easier and more entertaining, but they can also increase your electricity bill, put your entire family at risk and contribute to childhood obesity. Since there’s no way to incubate your kids from technological advances, being proactive is the answer. Here are five things parents can do to limit the negative impacts technology can have on their children and their household expenses:
Control the Electric Cost
Electric use has skyrocketed in the last decade as more and more devices are added to the home. Electricity may seem to come out of thin air, but its cost can certainly be felt when the utility bill arrives. Kids have a way of leaving lights on, letting their gaming consoles constantly run and plugging in an array of chargers that suck out vampire energy.
One of the easiest ways to control the impact of your kid’s technology use is by finding the best possible electricity rate. Comparison sites like www.LocalElectricityCompanies.com give consumers an easy way to compare plans and rates in one place. Kids may use a great deal of electricity, but at least each kilowatt-hour will cost less.
Talk to Your Kids About Internet Safety
Like everything else in life, parents are more concerned about Internet safety than their kids. The 2014 Teen Internet Safety Survey from Cox Communications found there was a significant disconnect between parents and kids when it comes to Internet safety. The survey uncovered that 21% of teens thought it was okay to share their physical location and 15% shared their phone number with others online. Another 18% considering meeting up in the real world with a person they met online.
Having regular discussions about Internet safety and how to handle various situations will go a long way to keeping your kids out of trouble online. The topics should include the importance of never sharing or using personal information, never downloading items, creating strong passwords, reporting problems and how to avoid cyber bullying.
That same Cox survey found that on average teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online each day. A report from Common Sense Media found that teens spent 9 hours a day using all forms of media, not including additional time spent on schoolwork. Kids aged 8-12 years old spent 6 hours a day using media on average. Mobile devices are a large reason why time spend online has increased significantly in recent years.
Digital overload can have a negative influence on a child’s physical activity level and your wallet. Clear parameters have to be set for when and how long kids can use electronic devices. Also stress that Internet and device use is a privilege not a right. Along with rules outline the punishment for breaking them.
Monitor Internet Use
It may seem like an invasion of privacy, but given the real dangers that lurk online parents should be monitoring their kids Internet use. Let’s revisit the Cox survey once again. Nearly half of teens (49%) said that their parents didn’t monitor their Internet usage in any way. What’s worse is that more than half of teens admit to taking steps to hide their online activity.
It’s time to change those numbers. There are lots of ways to search Internet usage records:
- Parental control monitoring software that can be downloaded on computers.
- Parental controls on mobile devices.
- History records within an Internet browser.
- Using the Internet browser safety features to block certain websites.
- Third party security apps like WebSafety. This one is great because you can also use it to set time restrictions.
The more monitoring channels you use the less likely it is that something will slip past you. Also regularly check software that sends automatic alerts. Eight percent of teens have admitted to disabling them once they’re installed.
Invest in Smart Home Features and Products
Smart home products and features will allow you to monitor your kids while you’re away and even control their ability to use certain devices. Today entire smart home systems can be set up to sync a number of energy efficient products like security cameras (are the kids doing homework or watching videos), lighting and even remote control outlets. These features give you the electricity reigns when you’re at home or away.