Setting limits with your child and his or her technology use is essential today. Today's parents may have grown up being asked by their parents how they could possibly study with the television or radio switched on. Today those distractions sound quaint, because from birth children are surrounded by technology. Typical phones allow voice conversations, but they also provide games, text messaging, and social media interaction.
Most parents are acutely aware of technological distractions because they experience them every day too.
We have more devices in our lives, and they can do more things than we ever imagined 30 years ago. As a parent it's important to learn how to track your child as he or she does homework while surrounded by technological distractions. A good place to start is by understanding how these distractions affect us, and why time limits on technology use are good for kids.
We like to think of ourselves as being competent enough that we can perform multiple tasks at once: check email while on the phone with our spouse while waiting for a document to print, for example. But some scientists say we're only fooling ourselves about multitasking. According to MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller, we may think we're multitasking, but in fact we're simply switching from one task to another with exceptional rapidity. What's more, there's a cognitive cost to having our attention divided like this.
It's hard to get out of the habit of trying to multitask, because the very process releases cortisol and adrenaline, which are stimulating, as well as dopamine, which feeds the "reward" centers in our brains. We may think our cognitive performance is firing correctly on all cylinders, but in fact our cognitive performance suffers. So does the cognitive performance of your kids when they try to do homework without turning off the phone or logging off the internet.
Learning consultant Annie Murphy Paul says there are three negative outcomes that result from trying to multitask while doing homework:
- Assignments take longer to complete
- Mental fatigue results from picking up and dropping mental threads, leading to more mistakes
- Subsequent memory of concepts is impaired when attention is divided
Being able to encode information in the brain is essential for learning retention, and laboratory studies have repeatedly shown that divided attention during the encoding process impairs how well we retain and remember that information. Results can include lower grades. Clearly it's important to learn how to track your kids while they're doing homework, but that's not as easy as it sounds.
How to Track Your Kids When Technology Is Needed for Homework
Parents walk a fine line, because technology is often part of the homework process itself.
Many kids use mobile devices as well as desktop devices to complete their homework. Assignments may require use of an app, or visiting a certain website. But when your child has to use a device to complete their homework, you can insist on blocking out other distractions. If a lesson must be completed on the web, that means turning off the phone, television, and other distracting technology so that your child is only using the technology necessary for completion of the task. Your children are simply not going to be able to get away from technology to complete all their school work, but you can limit extraneous technology.
Knowing how to track your kids and their technology use during homework time starts with separating homework from any technology that isn't needed to complete the assignment. One technique that works well for many parents is to have a child work for a set time period (perhaps 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour depending on their age and amount of homework they have), and then take a "tech break" for a brief 3 to 5 minute period before getting back to homework.
Another way to manage technology distractions is by smart use of technology. Familoop Safeguard is software that allows parents to protect kids online and keep kids away from dangerous or inappropriate online content, monitor social media interaction, texts, and phone calls, and limit time spent online. It works across devices, so your child can't "use up" his web surfing time on the family computer and then pick up a tablet and resume surfing.
Distractions have long been a problem when it comes to doing homework, and today there are distractions we never even imagined when we were kids. Technology is terrific and has many benefits, but it needs to be managed well, particularly when children are supposed to be completing school assignments. Parental Control Software by Familoop puts this power into parents' hands, and the results can be more efficient homework completion, and less risk to kids when they go online for fun.
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