Got givers’ remorse about kids’ tech gifts?

If you’re experiencing post-purchase anxiety because the Christmas gift you bought for your child has taken over his or her life, you are not alone. Help your child use your electronic gift as you intended—in moderation.

Keep the handheld in your hands. Decide what level of use seems reasonable—perhaps three times a week for a half hour at a time—and have your child ask to use the device. Keep a record on the fridge of when he plays; when he uses up his time, he has to wait until the next week.

Tame the texting. Perhaps your cell phone gift has confirmed why you were reluctant to buy one for your daughter. The average teen sends more than 3,000 texts per month—about six per hour. While a good communication tool, texting can also interfere with your teen having time alone, concentrating on homework, or being present to the people she is with at the time. Discuss with your teen what place she wants texting to play in her life and what your concerns are, and then develop a plan to have phone-free times of the day.

Get filters and check the history. While you may believe you can trust your son not to go to inappropriate sites on his iPhone or laptop, installing strong filters will protect him in a moment of weakness or from a buddy who wants to show him a porn site when they’re in a hotspot after school.

—by Annemarie Scobey  from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2010 and 2011 General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

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