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Making friends with technology (sort of)



Google puts more power in the hands of parents

Google puts more power in the hands of parents


Like most parents over the age of thirty – myself included – Adrian and his wife did not spend a childhood in a social media-dominated universe. If you’d said “screen time” to me anytime before the mid ‘aughts, I would have thought you were talking about changing out storm windows for screens in the spring. But, as he writes in Dad or Alive, rather than throw their hands up in defeat, Adrian and his wife took on screen time, app time, chat windows, with determination. They set reasonable, and follow-able, ground rules for tech use. They’ve also found user-friendly settings on Google, and on various apps, that help them enforce these rules.

It’s not just a need to control. Adrian sees his responsibility as twofold: he wants to make his kids’ online experiences safer, while at the same time encouraging them to have a healthy relationship with technology.

READ MORE: Tearing your hair out over remote learning?

Three out of Adrian’s four kids have become skilled and frequent tablet users. His ten-year-old daughter avidly watches videos on Tik Tok, and he’s made use of the “change settings” option to scale the app to creators her own age. In case you don’t know, much of the Tik Tok universe, to put it mildly, is wildly inappropriate for a ‘tween.

Adrian’s main tool is the ingenious Google Family Link. With it, he can control which apps his kids use, and with what frequency. He can set an internet shutdown time, so he knows the children aren’t using their devices past a certain hour. It helps him too, showing him exactly how much time he’s using email, YouTube, messages, and other apps.

Other tips he offers on helping your child enjoy a healthy relationship with technology include making them “earn the privilege” of using their tablets. And unless they’re reading a book, they can’t use them before bed. If a child has a friend over, they must interact and play, not just zone out on tablets. In restaurants, tablets allowed until food comes. And absolutely no chat function allowed on any app.

Tech isn’t going anywhere, of course. Luckily, developers are finally taking beleaguered parents into consideration, helping keep dependence under control.



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