5 Tips for Navigating New Devices for Kids
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5 Tips for Navigating New Devices for Kids

Giving your kid a new device this fall? Here’s how to set them up for success

Schools are mixed in their plans to reopen this fall with many continuing at-home learning or offering a hybrid approach. That means digital devices are likely part of your back-to-school plan. What used to be a big shopping month for back-to-school clothes is now shaping up to be a big month for computer and printer sales. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation parents are planning to add more devices (laptops, desktops, and accessories) to their back-to-school checklists as they anticipate more online learning.

If you’re one of the many parents bringing a new device home this fall, here are tips for helping your kids balance their new devices with IRL activities important to their development.

Establish boundaries from the start. Sure, we all eased up on screen time rules since last March. In fact, half of kids (48 percent) surveyed at the start of the pandemic were spending more than six hours per day online (a 500 percent hike since before the crisis). It goes without saying that kids will be online more this fall than last. But a consistent schedule for when your child can use their new device for school, for social, and entertainment needs, and when they should be off it altogether, will help set expectations for responsible use. If kids are aware of the rules early, there won’t be any surprises—or emotional outbursts—when you ask them to turn it off later.

Set up device controls. You can set controls on individual devices or use Circle to help you manage all of your devices in and out of the home with content Filters, Time Limits, Off Times and more. Use the Circle app to set time limits for on and off screen time so your kids can stay on track throughout the year, while also taking interest in non-digital activities, like reading, playing an instrument, or getting active outdoors, for a more well-rounded day.

Build in some downtime. Taking digital breaks throughout the day is important for kids’ attention span and productivity. A 2016 study found that breaks in the day also decreased stress, boosted brain function, and provided opportunities for kids to improve their social skills. Decide what rules you want to set—no devices during meals, midday breaks, and before bedtime, for example—and make them part of your kid’s new device routine. Circle Rewards can treat them to extra screen time for a job well done.

Engage with them and their new device. Play games, watch videos, and curate quality content that they can enjoy from their new device. It’s exciting to score a new, shiny laptop or tablet—if you introduce it with a positive attitude, they’ll respect the boundaries you set on times and content that aren’t appropriate.

Be aware of cyberbullying. New devices can mean greater chance of exposure to online bullying and distractions from social media. Look for signs that they’re having a negative experience on their device, such as being emotionally upset during or after use, withdrawing from friends and family, or not doing well in school, and then have a conversation with them about their experience (here are tips for issues with social media or playing video games).

Kids can often fear parents will take the device away if they share what’s really going on so come from a place of empathy. Small changes and checking in can ensure your kid enjoys their new device for what it was intended for: to connect with friends, explore new interests, and keep up with school.

For more information about how Circle can help, visit our Features page.

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