You know all those "new rules" you've been meaning to put in place at home for the new school year? With new teachers, new routines and shiny new pencils, now is an excellent time to implement those new rules. It is especially important to set guidelines when it comes to kids' technology use. An anything-goes policy towards computer use and playing video games over the summer months isn't going to work when school is back. Here are a few suggestions on hitting the re-set button:
1. Set limits on screen time
It's amazing how much time kids spend looking at screens, particularly when you factor in mobile use. Back-to-school is a great time to get screen time back under control. However, keep in mind that there can be "good" screen time - using a computer to research a school project or reading an e-book on a tablet - so not all screen time is the same.
Related: 10 moms all parents meet in elementary school
2. Stress the importance of "netiquette"
However much we try to manage screen time, back-to-school is inevitably accompanied by an increase in texting, Facebook use, and other tech-driven social networking. Parents should use this opportunity to re-stress the importance of online civility: don't engage in digital harassment; don't forward texts or emails that will hurt or embarrass other people; and don't post photos or videos of other people without their consent.
3. Establish parameters for mobile devices
Back-to-school often means a brand new smartphone or tablet. That's also a great opportunity to set up some rules of use. No mobile devices at the dinner table; no smartphone use after 9 p.m. at night or in the bedroom; and no smartphones on sleepovers. It's also a good idea to establish the rules for mobile devices at your kids' schools. While many schools have become more relaxed about smartphones and tablets in backpacks, the majority still prohibit their use during school hours.
Related: The 25 most awkward back-to-school photos...EVER
4. Clean up that Facebook account
Back-to-school is also a good time to overhaul that Facebook account. If your kids are on Facebook, encourage them to update their profile pictures, work on their Timelines, and unfriend anyone they don't know. For older kids, it's a time to start thinking about college applications, job interviews and future internships. It's time to move beyond the OMGs and BFFs and start preparing for a future where an online profile is an important part of a teen's resume.
Did you introduce new rules at the start of the School Year? Share them with us here!
- Monica Vila
For the 10 worst things about going back to school, visit Babble!
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Monica Vila is the Chief Technology Mom and co-founder of The Online Mom, the market leader in providing online and off-line tools to make parents of kids K-12 smarter and more comfortable with the technology that touches their family.
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