In today’s digital age, we are all constantly faced with technology distractions, such as Instagram, YouTube, and text messages from friends. These distractions are a big challenge, especially when students are trying to focus on homework, but they’re not going anywhere and are only proliferating. Learning to manage these distractions so we can get our work done is an important life skill!
How do you address the problem of technology distractions? On the one hand, you can take a restrictive approach and not allow any Internet access during homework time. On the other hand, you can take a permissive approach and allow your child to find his or her own way, learning to handle distractions as they become problematic.
Both of these options have their drawbacks. The permissive approach results in the loss of too much valuable homework time, or homework that is poorly completed. The overly restrictive boundaries don’t teach kids the long-term skills needed to manage distractions. After all, once they reach college and the job world there will be no one looking over their shoulder, reminding them to turn off Facebook until their work is done.
Let’s look behind door number three for a better solution. We recommend that the Internet and other media distractions become a common topic during regular family meetings. In the context of a family meeting, children are given some overall clear boundaries, or “non-negotiables,” but they are also brought into the ongoing conversation about what is working and what is not. Their opinions are valued, they are allowed to make some mistakes, and they are given the option to make choices within realistic limits. If your child is included in coming up with a solution, he or she will then be invested in the problem-solving process. Instead of parent vs. child, you’ve changed the dynamic – you are now on the same team, working together to solve a problem.