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OTHER ITA SITES:
War Declared On Instant Messenger: How to Stop Your Child from Wasting Their Life Away Online
Hey Parents! I hate to tell you, but there is no such thing as “useful instant messaging”. Your crafty child might try to take advantage of your lack of “Techie” know how when they say in that whiney voice... “But Mom…I’m IMing my friends about homework.” Don’t buy it! They are simply playing up the school is important bit so they can get you off their back.
To be fair, yes kids might spend a couple minutes discussing their school assignments. But for every 30 seconds of actual work, another 30 minutes are lost in useless chatter with the hundred or so “friends” on their buddy list! And if your child consistently pulls the “I didn’t know the assignment” excuse, then bigger school problems than instant messaging are on the horizon.
You can easily stop the hours upon hours of instant messaging with one simple gesture… PULL THE PLUG! Now, I don’t really mean to literally pull the plug out of the computer on your child. The last thing we want to do is get into a power struggle with your child, or break your $1500 computer.
No, what I mean is simply lay down the law. Allocate a specific period of instant messaging time per day. One hour of IMing is not going to kill anyone or their social life. And in that one hour time slot they will have plenty of time to discuss homework, their teacher, the new kid in class, or whatever.
Right now you might be saying, “That sounds great Chris, but what happens when my kid refuses to adhere to the allotted time?” When your child disregards your house rules it simply means they have too much free time on their hands. We all know that idleness is the devil’s playground. It might be time to up their chore responsibilities. Or sign them up for an after school art class or even a sport or karate. Sometimes the best answer is to simply spend some quality time with them. Set up a time each day to play scrabble, take a walk or cook something together. It really doesn’t matter what it is, just play to your kids interests and keep them busy.
The internet is a great tool, especially when it comes to education and homework. In the future we can expect to see an even greater merger of it with our every day lives. However, right now it’s the great stealer of time. Getting sidetracked is very easy, (as some of you might know) and with the media induced, shortened attention spans of our children, whole young lives could waste away online. Teach your kids to use the Internet and Instant Messaging as intended. Sometimes we use it for work; sometimes we use it for play. Just be sure your kids know the difference between the two.
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