Tag internet

Limiting Access to Technology in the Home

baby at computerAs summer approaches, and kids have much more free time, many parents have questions about whether they should limit their kids’ access to technology. This entry considers some of the salient issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their kids’ sedentary electronic pleasuring to two hours a day. I believe this guideline is well reasoned for at least five reasons:

• Using more of this technology can reduce the odds that a kid will sweat and breathe hard for 60 minutes a day, which is another broadly promulgated guideline.

• Using more of this technology can reduce the odds that kids will advance their face-to-face people skills.

• As is the case with just about too much of anything, too much usage of technology can worsen pre-existing vulnerabilities (e.g., mood disturbance, anxiety disorders).

• Being plugged in too much can reduce the likelihood that a kid will develop his or her top strengths (the topic of next week’s blog entry)attractive college student sitting

• High school students who aspire to be competitive for admission to high quality academic institutions do well to use the summer to work at internships, to do community service or to engage in activities that will put them into the running for these more difficult to get into schools. Obviously, being plugged in too much at home reduces effectiveness along these lines.

There are a few related questions that come up from parents:

I can’t control what my kid does when I’m not home. How can I enforce such limits?

First of all, a scheduled kid is a kid who isn’t as much in a position to defy such rules. But, if you need to resort to it, there are plenty of tools available to assist. For example, you can purchase devices that lock onto the ends of plugs or which turn electronics off after a pre-programmed amount of time (e.g., see www.familysafemedia.org).

How important are rating guidelines?

child playing with laptopI believe these guidelines are very important to follow, unless you have a good reason to do otherwise. Of course, your progeny will likely lament that hordes of his or her peers use this or that game, watch this or that movie, or otherwise consume material that violates such age/ratings guidelines. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that while not all parents who hear such complaints are effective, just about all effective parents hear such complaints.

My kid is way more tech savvy than me. How can I hope to establish and enforce parental controls and guidelines?

If you Google “parent controls” together with whatever device you’re dealing with you will likely find help (making sure to have the right model/software version). Otherwise, offer a 20-something person an Amazon gift card if s/he can check your controls for you; tell him or her that you’ll double the value if s/he is able to get around your controls, show you how s/he did it and offer countermeasures. I don’t find that this needs to take much time.

Should I be checking my kids’ emails, texts and pictures?

First of all, it’s your kids’ job to promote his or her independence and to become R1very upset when you check such things. But, there is evidence that when s/he believes that you might check his or her technology, at any time, that the resulting apprehension can increase the odds that s/he won’t go over to the dark side.

The best suggestion I have is to try to stay in the middle ground, which is a moving target. Too far to the right and you’ll be too monitoring and restrictive: signs of that are that you’re acting like a warden, your kid is acting like an inmate and s/he is becoming socially isolated. Too far to the left and your kid is either stepping on land mines or showing sings that s/he is at significant risk for such. Regardless of where you land on that continuum, some degree of checking and monitoring is usually advisable; the degree of this can be determined by your kid’s age, manifested success/failure and vulnerabilities (e.g., a kid struggling with ADHD may need more monitoring). (For more elaborate guidelines and a fuller vetting of the issues please see chapters 3 and 5 in my parenting book.)

What should I do if my plan seems to be not working?

funny-password-signThis one is easy. Seek out expert assistance! For a referral, click here.

Good luck my fellow parent-lunatic!




Video Games: Good or Evil?

There are many statements floating around out there about video games that suggest they should be either vilified or, less commonly, celebrated. “Video games are purported to…

…wreck your kid’s ability to pay attention.”

…make your kid violent.”

…take care of  your kids needs for physical activity, at least if he or she uses systems like Wii or Xbox Connect.”

“…promote addictive behaviors.”

“….offer a solution to social anxiety.”

In this column I’d like to make eight suggestions about video games that will respond to these and other concerns.

#1 Limit your kids total access to sedentary electronic pleasures to two hours a day. This is the sound counsel of authoritative bodies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your kid is spending more time than this he or she is likely missing out on other important activities such as physical activity, doing homework and socializing face-to-face. Actually, if you are mostly hitting your stride as a family you may find that your kids don’t have more than two hours a day free anyway.

#2 Take the ratings seriously but also realize that they can, for any given game, not be a fit for your child. (I find some parents are surprised by just how graphic and adult-themed video games marketed for kids and teens can be.). If my kid is exposed to material that he or she is not developmentally ready for, symptoms can emerge (e.g., becoming aggressive, having a difficult time sleeping).  There are also parent advisory websites you can review content in the games. Click here for one such example.

#3 Watching your kid playing acceptable video games, and commenting on his or her skill as well as how much you enjoy spending time together, can be a useful way to spend special time. (Readers of this blog, and my parenting book, know about my recommendation to spend one hour a week, with each kid, one-on-one, doing special time.)

#4 If you’ve been reading this blog and/or my book, you know that another activity commonly recommended by authoritative bodies is for each child to sweat and breathe hard for 60 minutes a day. Video game playing activity counts towards this only if your child is actually sweating and breathing hard. If he or she can’t carry on a normal conversation and sweat is changing the color of his or her shirt, you’re good. Otherwise, it doesn’t count.

#5 Many gaming systems, and their attached games, provide online access. Imagine the following scenario. You sign your kid up for a martial arts class at your local Y, a class which encourages participants to interact and get to know each other. In the class are other kids like your kid. But there is also a 44 year old divorced man who is sexually frustrated and medicating his pain with alcohol, a 25 year-old man who is struggling to control his urges to sexually assault children and a woman who medicates her severe anxiety by chain smoking marijuana. How okay would that be? Point made? For an article on some specific suggestions to promote monitoring of your child’s or teen’s online life, click here.

#6 Keep an eye on how your kids’ video gaming impacts him or her. You are the world’s leading expert on your kid. Use that expertise to gauge how a given video game is affecting him or her, if at all. For instance, I once knew a kid in elementary school who started playing a couple hours of an E rated game each week. At the same time he started becoming aggressive at recess. His parents made the connection and took steps to resolve the situation (a straight-forward banning of the game wasn’t indicated. I describe this case in my parenting book in the chapter on monitoring).

#7 Many parents ask, “should I let my kid have a video game system in his or her bedroom?” Until I see a well-controlled research study that investigates this with a sample that is large enough to allow for broad generalizations, it’s hard for me to feel strongly either way. But, my intuition, is that if you follow all the other guidelines in this blog entry, and your kid is generally doing well in life, it’s probably okay. But, I wouldn’t hook up access to television programing as there are too many ways that could be problematic (e.g., becoming too withdrawn from family life, putting it on when he or she should be sleeping). Also, keep in mind that if having a video game system in the room proves to be problematic, it doesn’t take an act of congress to undue it 😉

#8 What are the signs that the video gaming is becoming, or has become, problematic? The easiest sign is that your child is acting like he is crack dependent and the game playing is the crack. If this is the case, see this blog entry that breaks down how to deal with this kind of scenario. Otherwise, the gaming is problematic if it is interfering with any other important developmental tasks or if it is associated with symptoms. If in doubt, I’d recommend seeking out the services of a qualified mental health professional. For a referral click here.

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Good Parents Make

What follows I find, in my professional and personal dealings, to be the most common mistakes we parents make. At the end of each of them I’ve listed the chapter in my parent book Working Parents, Thriving Families: 10 Strategies That Make a Difference (WPTF) that offers an expanded discussion and specific strategies for dealing with each problem as well links to related blog posts.

#1: Imagining that there will be more time for the family next week.

One of the most important exercises I ask parents to do in my practice is “special time.” This activity, which is different from quality time, takes one hour a week. So, so many parents believe that it will be easy to “make” this time (there is no “finding” the time, only making it) each week only to learn that it is extremely difficult to do so consistently, an insight that is instructive.

When parents describe a week when they did not complete special time they stress how unusually busy it was. While there certainly can be exceptionally busy weeks, most of the time the only thing that rotates is what is causing the extreme busyness, not the extreme busyness itself.

See Chapter One, Complete One Hour of Special Time Each Week With Your Child in WPTF for more.

Related blog posts:

The Value of Unplugging

Conversation Starters for You and Your Teenager

#2: Parenting from a cross.

The research makes it clear that our collective parental self-care is often quite poor and that this causes significant stress on not only on us, but also on our partners and our kids. My experience is that the number one reason we good parents fall into this trap is because we are consumed by work and family duties. An image comes to mind: the oxygen masks having dropped in an emergency situation on an airplane and a woozy parent, who is not wearing an oxygen mask, is consumed by securing a child’s mask

See Chapter Seven, Take Care of Yourself and Your Relationship With Your Significant Other, in WPTF for more.

Related blog posts:

Six Tips for When You Lose It With Your Kid

51 Truths (As I See Things Anyway)

Effective Romance Helps Effective Parenting

Lions and Tigers and Vows, Oh My! 10 Tips for Taking Your New Year’s Resolutions from Oz to Kansas

#3: Praising poor performance.

The pervasiveness of this leaves me feeling confident that you could go to any youth baseball game in your community this weekend and likely hear examples of parents praising their kids for striking out, or making errors or for other kinds of poor performance. We know that facilitating our kids’ self-esteem is important. But our compressed and crazy-busy lifestyles sometimes cause us to use techniques that are either not helpful or that facilitate negative outcomes (e.g., self-entitlement).

See Chapter Two, Discover, Promote and Celebrate Your Child’s Competenites, in WPTF for more.

Related blog post:

Five Questions for Effectively Parenting Kids in Sports

#4: Trying to undo a kid’s pain.

One of my favorite quotes is by Kahlil Gibran in his great, little book The Prophet: “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” We good parents hurt worse when our kids hurt. So, we try to take it all away; if we are successful we limit our kids’ wisdom.

See Chapter Six, Promote Health Decision Making, Independence and Adaptive Thinking, in WPTF for more.

Related blog post:

•  Failure: An Important Part of  Psychologically Healthy Childhood.

#5: Missing the middle ground on discipline.

 It’s amazing how often the word “discipline” is equated with butt kicking. Actually, the root of the word is “to teach.” I would argue that the top outcome effective discipline promotes is our child’s capacity to do things well when he or she doesn’t feel like it. This is the psychological muscle group that best predicts success in our culture.

It is easy to wrap ineffective discipline strategies in truisms. The parent who is soul weary and disengages from discipline might say “you can’t make all their decisions for them. Kids have got to learn to make their own mistakes and to figure things out for themselves!” Likewise the harsh and unyielding parent (it takes less time to parent in this way than to discipline effectively), might say “kids have to learn respect and to do as they are told!”

To discipline well is one of the most challenging and time consuming aspects of effective parenting. As we are so, so tired and so, so overextended, it’s easy to miss the boat.

See Chapter Five, Practice Sound Discipline, in WPTF for more.

Related blog posts:

Six Reasons to Avoid Spanking

Seven Tips for When Your Child Refuses to do a Chore.

Top 11 Tips for Parenting Teens

#6: Enabling sleep deprivation.

There is an epidemic of sleep deprivation among our youth. The more researchers examine the consequences of this, the more we learn how impairing a lack of sleep can be across all the major domains of a child’s or teen’s life. Again, it is much, much easier to let this go than it is to ensure that our kids get enough sleep.

See Chapter Eight, Emphasize a Healthy Lifestyle, in WPTF for more.

Related blog posts:

Is Your Kid Getting Enough Sleep?

A Chronic Health Problems in Teens: A Lack of Sleep

Helping Your Child Get a Good Night’s Sleep

#7: Warring with other adults in a kid’s life.

My read of the scientific literature on divorce adjustment suggests that the two best predictors of child and teen adjustment to divorce are the number of changes that he or she endures (with fewer being better) and how well the parents get along. And, don’t even get me started on how important it is to a child’s education for parents and teachers to partner effectively. However, we parent-lunatics, often go to war with these other adults. The banners we fly as we march to battle usually articulate very important issues; however, we often don’t let ourselves be fully aware of the shrapnel our kids are taking.

See Chapter Nine, Establish Collaborative Relationships With Other Important Adults, in WPTF for more.

Related blog post:

11 Important Tips When You Meet With a Teacher

#8: Enabling excessive use of sedentary electronic pleasures.

Let’s face it, if our kids are plugged in they leave us the hell alone (and that’s good as we’ve got TONS to do) and they certainly seem to enjoy themselves. However, if a kid is doing this for more than two hours a day, it is very likely that she or he is missing out on important developmental outcomes (e.g., being physically active, developing skills for face-to-face interactions, learning academic material).

See Chapter Eight, Emphasize a Healthy Lifestyle, in WPTF for more.

Related blog posts:

Can Parents Trust Movie, Television and Gaming Ratings?

10 Tips for Parenting Your Progeny’s Online Life

10 Strategies if Your Child is Addicted to World of Warcraft

#9: Enabling a poptart-pizza-pasta diet and lifestyle.

Unfortunately, it’s cheaper and easier (e.g., more convenient, less hassles from progeny) to eat poorly than it is to eat well. I was at a restaurant recently with my eldest doing special time. As I was paying the check at the entry area an array of sumptuous bakery items was on display, to which I said “They look really good. But you might just as well inject a vile of glucose in your butt.” To which my eldest said “you say that all the time.” (My second eldest recently had a wittier retort: “but that wouldn’t taste as good.”) My saying this “all the time” to my kids is my way of howling at the moon as I find the marketing of unhealthy foods in our culture to be incessant.

Of course, it takes time and effort to ensure that our kids sweat and breath hard for an hour at least five days a week, even if the activity is fun (the guideline is actually for seven days a week, but I’m trying to be Dr. Flexible).

See Chapter Eight, Emphasize a Healthy Lifestyle, in WPTF for more.

Related blog post:

Kids’ Physical Activity: 7 Thinking Traps

#10: Excessive self-reproach, worry and lunacy.

At the end of the day we parents are shepherds, not sculptors. We often oversubscribe our kids’ outcomes to what we do and don’t do, to what we say and what we don’t say. While our efforts matter and make a big difference, so much of what happens in our kids’ lives is outside of our control (i.e., as they grow older the stakes rise and our control diminishes). Moreover, we are the best intentioned humans on the planet who work our butts off. And, every single one of us screws up on a pretty consistent basis. So, let’s cut ourselves some slack and have our self-talk be what we would have our kids’ self talk be, in the future, should they end up having kids…we can only hope that we can be there to see it, especially if we can simultaneously kick up our feet and enjoy a tasty beverage.

See the Introduction and Epilogue in WPTF for more.

Related blog post

We Parents are Lunatics

Strategies if Your Child or Teen is Being Bullied

Your child reporting that he or she is being bullied can be very upsetting. According to the Center for Disease Control, 19% of kids are victims of bulling on school grounds. Bullying can include physical and/or verbal confrontation, social exclusion and spreading harsh rumors; it can also occur through electronic and online technologies. Available evidence suggests that those who experience a pattern of being bullied experience significant mental health challenges (the same is often true among those who engage in a pattern of bullying). Among the children who are bullied low self-esteem and under socialization are common. In the animal kingdom predators prey on vulnerable members of the herd who can be found on the fringes or in isolation. This is often the case for children who are repeatedly bullied as well. If your child is experiencing a pattern of being bullied, or if any incidents of bullying are causing him or her distress, consider the following:

  1. Get expert assistance. An evaluation by a well qualified child mental health professional is usually a good idea, even if you are able to get the bullying to stop by other means. It is much better to understand any contributing problems, and to develop a plan for managing or fixing them, than it is to let a child or teen languish. To find a qualified professional near you click here.
  2. Consult with the school about the bullying. I’ve never met a teacher or school administrator who is willing to tolerate bullying. It is ideal to have this consultation with a child mental health professional at your side. The consultation can be used to reach a clear understanding about what has happened and to develop a plan for fixing things.
  3. Encourage your child or teen to travel with at least one friend as she or he travels from one location to another at school. As I implied above, bullying is much more likely to occur when a child or teen iis traveling solo. This step might involve inviting prospective friends over to your house in order to develop or to create friendships. If your child or teen cannot, or will not, name friend candidates her or his teacher(s) may be willing to do so.
  4. If your child or teen is a victim of cyber bullying consider first whether his or her online life is adaptive (please see my blog entries that cover monitoring online activity and internet addiction to help in this determination).
  5. If you know the parents of the alleged bully, and you have no clear reason to believe that they would be hostile, consider arranging to have them over to your home to discuss what everyone can to do garner wellness and peace. (In many instances it may be better to do #1 before this one so that a qualified mental health professional can help you to think through the issues, including how you want to manage the meeting.)
  6. If your child has not discovered things that he or she is good at, or does not have regular access to activities that put such talents on display, I would make changing this a top priority. Please see Chapter Two of my book Working Parents, Thriving Families, to read about specific strategies for pulling this off.

Here also are three strategies that often are not advisable. Keep in mind that even a broken clock is right twice a day. So, just about any strategy has some chance of working. But, I am suggesting that the odds of the following working, independent of significant negative side effects, are probably low:

  1. Encouraging a child to be physically aggressive. Yes, there is reason to believe that assaulting a bully might cause him or her to retreat. But this teaches all sorts of unsavory lessons, risks school disciplinary action and can be excruciatingly difficulty for a child or teen to pull off.
  2. Succumbing to your child’s or teen’s plea for you to do nothing. If your child told you that mold was growing in his or her locker at school and you could tell that this was making him or her sick, would you adhere to his or her begging to not take action? Keep in mind that any number of different kinds of action may be in order (see above). What I believe is generally more advisable is to find out what your child or teen reasonably fears could happen if you initiated a plan for fixing the problem (e.g., retaliation by the bully, someone finding out that he or she is in counseling). You might then take steps to make the odds of such happening remote. (A consultation with a mental health professional is especially advisable if your child is insistent along these lines.)
  3. To view the problem as completely resolved if the only change the occurs is that a pattern of bullying stops. I think it is very important to a child’s or teen’s wellness to take steps to understand and to resolve the underlying issues that caused such a painful cycle to begin.

10 Tips for Parenting Your Progeny’s Online Life

When considered from the lens of parenting, I liken Facebook, and services of its ilk, to dust mites. It’d be awesome if I could eradicate them, but that’s not realistic. Instead, I try to look upon online services that are available to my kids as offering opportunities to further realize my parenting agenda. This post offers my top 10 tips for tapping this opportunity.

#1. Maintain a weekly dialogue with your child. Having weekly one-on-one time to discuss how your child’s life is going is an essential foundation for just about any parenting agenda. “What are the best thing and the worst things that happened today, even if they were minor?” “Who are your top three friends these days and what do you like about them?” “What’s it like to be in 7th grade these days?” (Click here for a blog entry that lists other potential conversation starters. Please also see Chapter One in my parenting book Working Parents, Thriving Families, for detailed coverage.)

#2. Limit sedentary electronic pleasures to two hours a day. This is the recommendation of several authoritative bodies. If a kid is plugged in more than this he may be missing out on other important activities (e.g., being physically active, doing academic work, engaging in extracurriculars, socializing face-to-face).

#3. Use the social networking mediums that your kid is using and link to your child. If your child uses Twitter discover what it can do for you and be sure to follow each other. If your child uses Facebook use it as well and friend each other.  You also want to make sure your child doesn’t have two social networking accounts: the one you’re connected to and the one on which he goes rogue.

#4. Monitor your kid’s computer use. We want to strive for the middle ground. Over monitoring a successful and responsible child dampens the development of independence and can unduly tax a parent-child relationship. Under monitoring a child who is struggling, or who is putting herself into harmful situations, is obviously not a good idea either. This is where your world’s leading expertise of your child is essential to inform your steps. Regardless of the dosage of monitoring that you decide is advisable, programs that allow you to track your child’s computer use can be very helpful (e.g., www.spector.com/spectorpro.html, www.webwatchernow.com).

#5. Network with other parents and use parenting resources. Whenever you’re hanging out with other parents (e.g., on the sidelines of games, before a parent meeting starts) ask them what strategies they use. While you may hear from parents who seem misguided in their approach (e.g., washing their hands of a monitoring responsibility), others may have clever insights and ideas to share. There are also an abundance of online resources available for parents. (e.g. www.wiredkids.org, www.familyinternet.about.com, www.familysafemedia.com).

#6. Set up rules. Here are some I’d suggest:

√ No swearing.

√ No discussions of sexual or illegal activity.

√ No threatening others.

√ No “friending” people above the age of              (i.e., your 11 year old child’s 19 year old cousin may be super nice to her and a great person, but friending her on Facebook may afford your child access to inappropriate adult material, either on her cousin’s page or on the page of someone in her cousin’s network).

√ Under the “How You Connect” portion under “Privacy Settings,” make sure they are all set to “Friends.”

√ Public searches should be disabled on Facebook. This means that people cannot find your child’s page through internet searches. Under “Privacy Settings” click on “Apps and Websites,” then click on “Edit Settings”  that is next to “Public Search.” Then uncheck the “Enable Public Search” box.

√ You must get others’ permission before posting his or her picture online. Depending on the age and maturity of your child you may also decide that you must also approve all pictures before they are posted; this would also allow you to determine if your child’s friend’s parents’ approval should be garnered.

#7. Role-play scenarios. This is an excerpt from a 2008 national study of the online experiences of kids aged 10-15, authored by Drs. Michele Ybarra and Kimberly Mitchell, that appeared in Pediatrics: “Fifteen percent of all of the youth reported an unwanted sexual solicitation online in the last year; 4% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically. Thirty-three percent reported an online harassment in the last year; 9% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically. Among targeted youth, solicitations were more commonly reported via instant messaging (43%) and in chat rooms (32%), and harassment was more commonly reported in instant messaging (55%) than through social networking sites (27% and 28%, respectively).” Given how common such experiences are we do well to train our kids how to respond. “Hunter what would you do if someone put on their Facebook page a hurtful lie about you?” “Aiden what would you say if someone asked you for your address?”

#8. Set up parental controls on computers that your child uses. This would include things like using browsers designed to block explicit content from kids (e.g., bumpercarwww.cybersitter.com), not allowing your child to covertly install software (i.e., through settings within the system software), and making sure that there are sufficient parental controls on your child’s other gear that can go online (e.g., cell phone, video game console, portable gaming unit). After you set up your controls offer a tech savvy 20-something person a gift card if he can try to circumvent your controls; offer a higher value gift card if he is successful and can show you how to install effective countermeasures.

#9. Make sure your child understands the limits of privacy on the internet. Colleges search Facebook pages for information, as do employers, volunteer organizations and other people who might be a gatekeeper for some experience, membership or standing that your child may desire in the future (e.g., I recently heard of a coach of a travel baseball team who rejected a kids application to play on the team because of what he found at that kids Facebook page). A good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want the world to see it, think four times about posting it.

#10. Consider what you might do to promote the privacy of your family’s online experience. Each computer has an IP address that tells internet sites you visit where you’re located. However, there are services available that make it more challenging to do this (e.g., www.hidemyass.com, www.anonymizer.com). As a start you might read up on IPs and privacy (e.g., http://www.livinginternet.com/i/iw_ip.htm). Moreover, many websites will, without you knowing it, collect information from your computer. However, there is software available that allows you to approve or disapprove this activity (e.g., for Macs: www.littlesnitch.com; for Windows: www.zonealarm.com).  Keep in mind that some have argued that Facebook’s true customers are not its users but the corporations to which it sells information about its users.

For other websites and resources please also see the “Further Reading and Viewing section of Chapter Three in Working Parents, Thriving Families, or the Chapter Three section at www.resilientyouth.com. You may also enjoy reading 10 Strategies If Your Child is Addicted to World of Warcraft (WOW).

10 Strategies If Your Child is Addicted to World of Warcraft (WOW)

According to the 2010 Guinness Book of Records, World of Warcraft (WOW) is the number one “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” or MMORPG, with over 10 million subscribers world-wide. WOW is a fun open-ended online game that can, for some kids, become an unhealthy obsession.  If you’ve determined that your child is overly engaged in WOW, consider these ways of responding:

  1. Try to understand what human need is being met for your child by taking part in WOW. Is it to be liked? Is it to lead? Is it to be competent? An effective understanding of the reasonable goal(s) your child is trying to reach through WOW can give you insights into what is being frustrated in his or her real world.
  2. Try to partner with your child in expanding upon the success she or he is having in the real world. This may be socially, academically, extracurricularly or within your home.
  3. If your child has not identified areas of top strengths, use tools like the VIA Signature Strengths Survey or StrengthsExplorer to generate theories about what  he or she might be very good at.
  4. If he or she has not done well with popular activities (e.g., sports offered at school, the most readily available clubs, etc.), try activities off the beaten path, using your child’s interests or insights from the previous recommendation to guide you.
  5. Look for partners in generating plans for increasing your child’s success in life. This might include teachers (most of whom are most willing to help), coaches, family, parents of your child’s friends, etc.
  6. Try to limit your child’s sedentary electronic pleasures to two hours a day. This is the sound counsel of more than one authoritative body (e.g., the American Academy of Pediatrics). If your child is doing more than this he or she may be missing out on other important developmental tasks (e.g., getting enough physical activity, advancing in reading skills, etc.)
  7. Explain to your child why you are putting any limits in place. This is done not to solicit approval (e.g., “thank you mother for being so wise and self-less in the administration of your parenting mission”), but to be respectful and loving. Of course, this will not typically mitigate passionate objections to the court from your child.
  8. Put appropriate electronic controls in place. Blizzard (the company behind WOW), has parent controls available within the game. Please click here to get started. There are also a variety of controls available either within many computers and televisions, just call the relevant technical support person. Finally, there are companies that sell products that make it easier for you to put controls into place (e.g., www.familysafemedia.com).
  9. Try to make sure that you are your child have at least one hour a week together where all you do is pay attention to your child and value either what your child is doing and/or saying. Called “special time” this involves  a more intense dosing of attention than  “quality time” (i.e., something else typically captures a parent’s attention  during quality time, such as shopping, fishing, etc.).
  10. There is an army of lean-mean-healing machines available and willing to help you in your efforts to help your child. If you find that this is complex or difficult for you to resolve on your own or that your child is having a toxic reaction to your efforts to establish loving controls, consider taking the step of identifying a child therapist to help. One place to get local referrals is here.

Research suggests that effective parental monitoring is one of the most powerful ways to promote resilience, happiness and wellness in your child. Hence, your well designed  efforts along these lines are usually well worth it!

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