Don’t Let Devices Ruin Your Holiday! 12 Tech Tips for Parents

by Dec 9, 2019Tech Solutions

The Christmas Tech Safety Countdown is On! 

In just a few weeks, the kids are going to toss their backpacks and school books aside for a well-earned break. This also means that they will be looking for things to do! Some of those things will inevitably involve tech. Before your kids get settled in for the holidays, take a few minutes to go over these twelve tech tips for parents to plan and enjoy a memorable time with your family. They can also serve as a “tech tune up” for areas that you want to address in 2020.

Tip #12:  Get your safety settings in place

Before you wrap up any tech gifts with cameras, microphones or location tracking, take some time to review the security and privacy options that are associated with them.  

Don’t hesitate to open up the packaging and plug in the device to see how it works. Then change the generic passwords and disable any cameras or location trackers.  

Ideally, before you purchase the toy you will have searched for reviews and news specifically relating to complaints about security issues. Here are some places to find a security or privacy overview on an item you are considering purchasing:

Tip #11:  Plan for tech-free activities over the holidays

This is best done ahead of time, especially if there will be tech toys under the tree. Of course, you want your kids to enjoy their new devices, but also plan for blocks of time when you can have device-free family fun.  

Here’s an idea! Bring out a physical calendar after dinner one evening. Rather than talk about what kids can’t do (e.g., play too many video games), turn it into a fun discussion of what you will do as a family. Everyone should contribute to the idea wish list. And then book it right into your calendar. If there is equipment required (e.g., skates), try to have it located and ready to go before you need it on the day.

Related:

5 Easy Tricks to Manage Screen Time and Get a Happier Family, Too

Screen Time and Mental Health: Simple Life Hacks for Raising Resilient Kids

How to Protect Kid’s Holiday Tech Gifts in 2018 (and Fun Screen-Free Ideas!)

Tip #10:  Set boundaries when visiting family and friends

This is a tricky one because it involves our loved ones, and potentially hurt feelings, but it’s important to be proactive. Your tech rules will likely be different from your sister-in-law’s or cousin’s family. So, if her kids have unfiltered access to social media, how can you bridge the gap between your family’s expectations while still enjoying one another’s company and also keeping your kids tech-safe?  

One idea is to bring over some physical board games or other non-tech toys to keep the kids busy and provide some fun time away from their screens. When you see the devices come out at a family gathering, you can let your relatives know that your family keeps all devices in common areas and not bedrooms or behind closed doors. This way the kids can still have fun but also be supervised by adults.

Related:

Safe Playdates: 3 Strategies for Setting Media Ground Rules

Tip #9:  Learn (and teach your kids) to create great passwords

There is a process to creating a great password, or what some like to call a passphrase:  a collection of random words that are turned into a memorable phrase. They are harder to hack than conventional upper and lower case strings of numbers and letters and they are much longer in length (while also being easier to remember). This is a useful video to pass on to your teen or to watch with your tween to help her secure her accounts and devices:

 

Tip #8:  Enjoy the new tech or devices with your kids

If they’ve received a new video game or tech toy, have fun exploring together. You will better understand how the technology works, and, more importantly, you will create an opportunity to bond with your child.  

Related:

Holiday Tech Guide: Video Game Gift Decisions Made Easy in 4 Quick Steps

Online Video Games: Top 10 Tips to Keep Kids Safe

Tip #7:  Watch out for unsafe or problematic apps on phones

Even after you’ve set the appropriate parental settings on your child’s devices, continue to monitor her phone for popular but inappropriate social media apps and games. Many of the lesser known ones come and go very quickly.

It can be nearly impossible to stay on top of what your child is doing on all these apps. Bark is an app that monitors text messages, YouTube, emails and social networks for potential safety concerns to help you stay on top of things

Note: The link to Bark is an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting Protect Young Minds!

Related:

Parent Alert! Is TikTok Safe for Kids?

Parent Alert: Is Roblox Safe for Kids? Watch Out for These 4 Dangers

Social Media App Ratings: Can Parents Trust Them?

Tip #6:  Substitute your phone with a digital camera

Why is this on the list? Photo taking – especially selfies – will generally surge during any holiday. Here’s an idea: try using a digital camera for some of your holiday events and ditching the phone.  You could also turn this into a gift idea for your tween or teen and help to foster new skills in photography. There are many great point-and-shoot cameras on the market and, combined with an excursion in the outdoors, it can be a pathway for new adventures.

Tip #5:  Test your child’s device against Santa’s “nice list” 

Here’s a festive way to think about your child’s online safety. Take the “Nice Device List” quiz for a safety checklist this holiday.

Tip #4Set a digital curfew

It’s the holidays, so kids will inevitably be up later. But don’t let it stretch into night after night of video gaming until too late. The artificial blue light from electronic devices is known to interfere with your body’s sleep quality.  Consider setting a digital curfew that has everyone shut off their devices for the evening at least half an hour (preferably more) before bed. (Nothing spoils the holidays faster than cranky, sleep-deprived kids!)

Tip #3:  Prepare your kids for negative online experiences

Talk to your kids about what to do if they experience or see something negative or pornographic online.  

To prepare them for cyberbullying, use the code Stop, Block, and Tell. Stop what activity they are doing; block the person if they are on a game or social media site; and then tell a trusted adult right away.

Also be sure to prepare them for pornography exposure. The Good Pictures Bad Pictures series of books are a great way to do this! 

Prepare your young kids to be safe with Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds CLICK HERE to learn how to protect kids ages 3-6 from the dangers of pornography.
“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Also be sure to check out Protect Young Mind’s Prepare & Prevent Page and get your FREE Quick Start Guide for Proactive Parents to get tips on how to talk to your kids about pornography.

 

Tip #2:  Remind kids about their digital footprint

Teens will likely want to share on their social media photos of themselves during the holidays.  Be intentional about having a tech-safety conversation with your teen and remind him that what he shares online cannot be easily removed or deleted. For teens, it’s especially important to know that future employers will likely be doing searches of their online presence through social media.

Related:

5 Reasons Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

Tip #1:  Be a good role model

This is the most important tip since kids will see very quickly if we are practicing what we are preaching when it comes to devices and screen time. If you find yourself spending too much time scrolling through social media in the presence of your kids, take some time this holiday to do your own digital detox. 

Related:

Social Media and FOMO: What the Fear of Missing Out is Doing to Your Family

The holidays are a wonderful time to bond with your kids and make some great family memories. With some proactive tech tip planning, they can also be safe and stress-free for everyone.

Stacey Dittman, M.A.
Stacey Dittman lives north of Toronto with her husband and two sons. She holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Language and Professional Writing.
Stacey has used her writing and research skills in the government, non-profit and small business sectors. She is thrilled to be working with Protect Young Minds to help empower parents with the latest available information and resources. She enjoys hiking and playing tennis with her family and working with junior high kids in her sons' youth group.

Don’t Let Devices Ruin Your Holiday! 12 Tech Tips for Parents

The Christmas Tech Safety Countdown is On!  In just a few weeks, the kids are going to toss their backpacks and school books aside for a well-earned break. This also means that they will be looking for things to do! Some of those things will inevitably involve tech....

Parent Alert: Worried about Alexa? 4 Tips to Protect Your Kids

Every couple of months, I see a new article being shared around my social networks about the possible dangers of voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa. But many of these articles contain a lot of speculation without a lot of experience, especially in the area of kids...

Should You Give Your Kid a Phone? Easy Guide with 3 Great Options: Relay, Gabb and ClearPhone

We agonize over when to give our kids their first phone, but what kind of cell phone to give them is becoming just as big of a question. Retailers are swooping in with phones directed at this new “first phone” market, like Relay, Gabb Wireless, and ClearPhone. But...

Schools Turn Cell Phones Off to Turn Learning On

Great News! Schools are helping kids get off their phones! There’s a growing trend that’s making waves this year in classrooms around Canada and the United States: mobile phone bans in classrooms! San Mateo High School in California is using a novel approach to limit...

Parent Alert! A Timely Tech-Check for Your Kid’s Back-to-School Safety

A Tech-Check is Essential for Back-to-School Safety Have you finished your back-to-school preparations yet?  While you are taking care of new backpacks, clothes, and haircuts, consider doing this: a tech-check to help your family start off the year with good digital...

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids.

Learn More →

Get the Book

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids

Grab your FREE Guide!

We'll give you 10 questions to help you decide if your child is ready for a smartphone.

Your FREE Guide Is On The Way!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This