Parents, guardians must help kids use technology responsibly | Daily Editorial

Technology truly is a marvelous force when used correctly, especially in dire circumstances. You only need to look at the last year to see just how lucky we are to have the technology we do.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed our world almost overnight. To halt the spread of the disease, we had to put a lot of our favorite activities on hold. No longer could we gather with a mass of our friends and family for dinner or pack into a theater to see the latest movies.

We were able to fill some of those gaps thanks to technology. Zoom parties replaced live gatherings. Students at all levels adapted to virtual learning. We found different ways to stay involved with the people we know through our technological prowess.

But as the old saying goes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Our society spent a lot more time looking down at screens before the pandemic happened. COVID-19 has made us spend even more time on them whether it is texting friends or checking social media.

How can we make sure that our kids aren’t spending too much time on their phones, tablets and laptops? That is what the group Protect Young Eyes seeks to answer.

Technology can be intimidating, especially for older adults. It can be confusing with so many different social media apps and platforms. Kids and young adults are used to being inundated with information, bouncing back and forth from different social media apps all day. Parents, grandparents, guardians and others may find it hard just to keep up with whatever new thing is attracting the younger crowd’s attention on that day.

The organization seeks to help families, schools and others create safer digital environments and recently met with students and parents from Frederica Academy and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. Protect Young Eyes works to make complicated topics easier to digest by breaking it down into bite-sized portions.

The group also works to build “digital trust” between parents and their children with a framework that focuses on attributes of families whose children use technology well. The steps focus on modeling healthy use of technology, making it a group activity, understanding how youth interact with technology, talking honestly about it and playing an active role in helping youth instead of making it feel combative.

Whether you follow the guidelines that Protect Young Eyes uses or not, it is important for every parent or guardian to talk to their children about how to use technology.

Now is the time to nip any bad habits in the bud, and help them understand that there is a world out there beyond what they see on their screens.