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Gadget-gifting gone bad

From gaming consoles to laptops to smartphones to portable game players, digital natives will inevitably rank electronic toys and gadgets at the top of their holiday gift-request list.

In most families, the battles begin almost as soon as kids rip off the wrapping paper as parents struggle with everything from non-stop texting to homework vs. screen-time struggles.

Contributed by Stacy DeBroff, CEO of Mom Central

If you are giving gadgets and electronics to your kids this year, consider these top holiday tips to prevent high-tech troubles.

Realize the electronic onslaught starts earlier than ever

Parents remember their own holiday lists — filled with records, board games, and model airplanes — and often struggle with their kids’ requests that contain nothing but electronics. With kids 5 and younger carrying one or two electronic devices during an average day, and most moms purchasing kids a cell phone between age 10 and 12, parents need to be prepared earlier than ever for electronic requests.

Know the long-term costs

While a gaming console or cell phone might sound like an ideal “big gift” for a tween or teen, don’t forget that the financial implications extend long after the holidays. Kids will always want more games and add-ons, and all those texts and app purchases can add up. Make sure you understand the long-term costs before getting swept up in holiday gift giving.

Look to limit the electronic cocoon

Kids today spend about 20 hours per week engaged with electronics, and one in five moms worry about technology overload. If you plan to grant your digital natives’ holiday wishes with a tablet, gaming device, or smartphone, make sure you decide in advance on some real-life guidelines — ranging from homework-gets-done-first rules to hourly screen time limits — to avoid kids existing in an ever-present electronic haze.

Have “The Electronic Talk”

These days small gadgets can lead to big troubles such as cyber-bullying, “sexting,” and online predators. Soon after kids pull off the wrapping paper, have a serious discussion about online risks and help kids understand the very-real consequences of online behavior.

Stay large and in-charge

Even as electronic gadgets play a bigger role in kids’ lives, parents often remain hesitant about setting boundaries — with just 23 percent of moms using an online program to filter internet access. Now more than ever, parents need to remain in control of kids’ electronic usage — even if the gadget comes wrapped with a big bow. Rules such as requiring kids to hand over phones before bedtime, banning texting during family get-togethers, and ensuring kids offer up passwords to social media accounts go a long way in keeping kids safe.

Stacy DeBroffAbout the author:

A dynamic national speaker, consultant, corporate spokesperson, and writer, Stacy DeBroff is founder and CEO of Mom Central, Inc., a company devoted to providing pragmatic tips and advice to strengthen and simplify the lives of busy families, and Mom Central Consulting, the nation’s leading viral marketing to moms agency.

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