How do you decide when to introduce your kids to certain types of technology (DS, Wii, Internet, Email, Facebook, cell phones, etc.)?
Hubby and I like to take the middle of the road approach on this subject and most things in parenting. We both agree that being overly protective, or overly permissive does not lead to a good outcome. I tend to be more overprotective and conservative and he tends to be more relaxed but we come together and often find a good middle ground.
My children do not have a Facebook page and my children do not have a cell phone and will not have either of these items any time soon.
My son has already told me that several of his friends already have a Facebook page in 5th grade. I have just flat out told him no. Facebook requires the user to confirm they are 13 and the parents have to lie about the children's birthdays to set it up. This is a huge red flag to me. I know you can monitor their Facebook usage and you can set their privacy settings so they can only be friends with certain people but I find it unnecessary at this age. When B is 13 we can reevaluate, he will be entering 8th grade at that time, which seems to be a more appropriate age for this type of forum. Kids do things through technology (texting, Facebook, etc.) that they would do ever consider in person such as bullying or sexting. I know I can't protect my kids forever and I want them to be able to learn to use these items under my supervision but just not yet.
Lots of children in elementary school also have cell phones. I don't disagree with your child having a cell phone if they ride a bus or are at home alone but my kids do neither. Hubby and I have flat out told the children that a cell phone is completely unnecessary to them at this point because they will always be with an adult that has one. Once we feel they are old enough and responsible enough to stay home alone and they have a need for a cell phone, then we will consider it. Maybe when B enters middle school and has a 20 minute bus ride I may consider getting him a phone for emergency purposes only, no calling friends, no texting. I know once kids get to high school all bets are off and my kids will probably be texting and talking non-stop but the longer I can delay it the better.
We only broke down and let our kids get a Nintendo DS about a year ago (another family member bought them as gifts for the kids) and have had a Wii in our house for 2 years. We are not quick to upgrade to the latest technology. We only got a HDTV last year and we don't yet have a Blue Ray player. We don't have a TV in our bedroom and the kids have to use the computer in our living room. We recently even cancelled our cable TV in lieu of Netflix.
As for the current technology in our house, TV, computer, Nintendo DS, and Wii, we use them in moderation. The general rule we try to follow is 30 minutes of screen time on school nights and 2 hours of screen time on the weekends. The kids have responsibility charts which lists what they need to do to get ready in the morning and ready for bed, as well as assigned chores to earn allowance. If their responsibilities are not done they do not have privileges (TV, computer, etc.), if they don't do their chores they do not get paid allowance for that day (they receive 50 cents per day). So far it seems to be working. I do not want my kids to be little zombies, watching TV and playing video games all day, but I do know there is time in the day for them to enjoy these items in moderation.
What limits have your family set with technology? Do you feel your limits are working?