Health & Parenting: Advice on Kids and Technology from Golden-Based Love and Logic Institute

April 22 2013, 9:15 AM

Colorado children's physical health (covered in our April feature "Get Well")  is just one component of overall wellness parents worry about. Many are uncertain how to approach complex mental and behavioral issues—especially in today's quickly evolving culture. However, one Golden-based business—which began in 1977 when an educator and a child psychiatrist came together to write a book about parenting—says raising well-behaved, responsible kids still comes down to the same basic tenants its founders identified over 30 years ago: setting reasonable limits and allowing kids to make affordable mistakes. Today, the Love and Logic Institute has grown to offer seminars nationwide for educators and parents, instructional CDs and DVDs, and a plethora of online resources. Dr. Charles Fay—Love and Logic president and father of three—sounds off on one of the most pressing parenting issues of our time: technology.
 

Technology has dramatically changed parenting. We must have a plan for managing technology with our kids rather than allowing it to manage us. The good news is that kids still have the same needs they always have: to be loved unconditionally, to have limits, to be held accountable, and to learn when the price tag is small.

 The biggest mistake I see parents make is allowing unlimited computer/Internet access behind closed doors. Parents need to understand that kids don’t need to have privacy.

It’s important to model behavior. I worked with this brilliant dad, who said, “When I’m out spending the day with my kids, I’ll purposefully have my wife call me about five times. When the phone rings, I ignore the call and say, ‘You guys are more important than this phone.’ ”

No matter how much you monitor a child, if you don’t have a good relationship, they’ll get sneaky on you.

Relationships are the best antidote to all sorts of problems kids get into. Kids often get pulled into Internet and video game addictions to escape life at home. Developing healthy recreational interests together—riding bikes, playing tennis—is a major resiliency factor.

Technology is very similar to drugs; if I raise a kid that is responsible and connected to me, odds are high that they won’t get pulled in. If they’re lonely and angry, they could be confined to the South Pole and they’d still find penguins to get into trouble with.

We need to allow things to be problems for our children. We only learn and grow when we have challenges. Parents are too concerned about making life stress-free for their kids.

Parents are always looking for specific solutions to micromanage technology issues; outlawing violent video games or finding the right software to block certain sites. And some of that’s good. But they’re looking past the real solution, which is raising kids who make good decisions from the inside out.

—Image courtesy of the Love and Logic Institute

Follow copy chief Jessica Farmwald on Twitter at @JessicaKF.