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Grandparenting in the Age of the Smartphone

Six Tips to not get Out-Smart-Phoned –

Sure, every generation of grandparents bemoans the sorry state of the world today and the impact on our grandkids. Technology is wonderful but it can also give us a great deal to complain about. If you look at all of the “smartphone zombies” you can see in any given public place, you know what I mean.

Kids today are born into a world of shiny high-tech gadgets and it’s enough to throw any conscientious grandparent into despair. Here are some tips on how to live in the age of the smartphone.

Trust Their Parents’ Judgment

When it comes to smartphones and other digital devices, the parents of your grandchildren know more about them than you do. For this reason, it’s good to rely on their judgment. They probably have experience using devices and some idea of what’s okay and what’s not. Defer to the ground rules they lay on smartphone usage when in doubt.

Out-Fun the Smartphone

One good way to beat smartphone usage is to provide plenty of things for grandchildren to do that are active, creative and fun. The things we did as kids like going to play in the park, play board games and make stuff are much more fun than anything to be found on smartphones. Kids use these devices when there’s downtime or no one has provided any other activity. You can stay ahead of the smartphone by providing plenty to do.

Practice Internet Safety

We always had to worry about weird strangers in the park, but now we have weird strangers in chat rooms to worry about. Not only smartphones but the internet as a whole presents this threat. When you go online, you have left the house, so apply similar rules. Monitor all internet activity and know what kids are doing online. Follow the safety advice of the parents here as well.

Limit Access

If you’re one of the tech-savvier of your generation who uses a smartphone, lock it and limit access to it. It’s perfectly alright to tell a white lie and say that grandma’s or grandpa’s smartphone doesn’t have internet and games. Alternatively, you can limit internet access and load your phone up with educational games for the kids to play during designated times where you say it’s okay.

Your House, Your Rules

A good way to restrict smartphone usage is to simply create a “no electronics” rule at grandma and grandpa’s house. Smaller kids won’t mind at all. They’ll get used to not having digital devices at your house and won’t question it. For older kids, follow the above tip and provide plenty of other types of fun.

Learn to Love the Smartphone

Whether you love it or hate it, the smartphone is here to stay, so you might as well learn to at least tolerate it. There are many things you can do with a smartphone that are educational or creative. You can also use smartphones to stay in better touch with your grandchildren. One grandparent I know exchanges daily text messages with his granddaughter, who’s just learning how to write.

Don’t fear the smartphone. New technology always makes us nervous, especially when we don’t use the technology ourselves. If you learn a bit about the technology, monitor and restrict its usage, and provide plenty else to do, your grandchildren will grow up with very good boundaries for using smartphones.

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