Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 02:14 pm

What follows is a story that highlights the importance of helping our kids develop a healthy relationship with technology before they move into their adult lives…

I’d like to share a story from a conversation I had with my colleague, Dr. Dan Siegel. What follows is a story that highlights the importance of helping our kids develop a healthy relationship with technology before they move into their adult lives.

Ryan’s* parents reached out to me after discovering that he had effectively dropped out of college in his first semester away. Marlene* and Steve* were attentive parents. They both worked hard to provide Ryan and his sister with a good life. They had plenty of restrictions on screen time, limiting Ryan’s video game time throughout high school with stringent consequences if he broke the rules.

They focused entirely on monitoring their kids, rather than mentoring them

When Ryan arrived at university, he was exhilarated with his newfound freedom. No one was there to tell him to turn off his screens! He could play video games to his heart’s content… until one in the morning… then 3:00 am… and then 5:00 am. Within a month, he was so tired he began skipping classes frequently. Meals and showers became sporadic. The intoxication of unlimited access to his online world derailed the life he was meant to be living in the real world.

It wasn’t until Steve and Marlene received notification that their son was on probation that they discovered what had been going on. Ryan is now living at home and enrolled in a local university as he works with a counsellor to help him get on track. It has been a very difficult year for this family.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

I love technology. I don’t believe we should deprive ourselves of the numerous benefits it delivers – whether it’s the ability to connect with loved ones, learn, create, play cool games… the list goes on.

We need to help our kids acquire the skills they will need to maintain balance in their screen-time use

But just as we wouldn’t leave the liquor cabinet open for our 14-year-old or pretend they aren’t going to be curious about alcohol, we need to help our kids acquire the skills they will need to maintain balance in their screen-time use and manage the complexities of online relationships, while staying fully engaged with the real world.

It is uncharted territory, but with attention and care, we can help our kids enjoy the journey without getting lost along the way.