Digital-Age Parenting

How the East Family Stays Plugged In to Their Tech and Each Other

One could argue that successful parenting has been one of civilization’s greatest challenges. With today’s technical environment evolving at a breakneck pace, those challenges are only multiplying. As we approach 2020, it’s clear that the U.S. is totally immersed in the age of screens. PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones and even smart TVs provide business, educational and entertainment content to parents and children alike, 24/7, 365. These powerful tools, like any tools, can be used in highly positive or negative ways, and if not managed correctly, they can add additional stress to parents everywhere.

A Kettering family has taken an approach to screen management that flows directly from the husband’s business. This is Randall and Jessica East and their blended family of five children ranging from ages 10 to 18: William, Sophie, Skye, Alex and Logan. Randall has integrated the residential IT expertise from his company, TechAdvisors Home, with his and Jessica’s parenting style to effectively manage the kids’ screen time.

Each family member’s internet-enabled device has its own individual filters and connection to the household Wi-Fi, allowing Randall and Jessica the ability to manage access on a child-by-child and time-scheduling basis.

“The system is smart enough to know which device belongs to whom,” Randall explains.

For example, only after William, 10, completes his chores and outdoor playtime will he have access to his screens for homework or entertainment. Since William’s older siblings have schedules and priorities that differ from his, they do their screen time right after school and sports practices. All connections are then disabled while everyone gathers for family dinner and again at the children’s various bedtimes.

“I think it’s a very handy tool,” Jessica says. “It’s a really good motivator. Their games, TV shows and communication to their friends can all go away, encouraging good behavior.”

This setup is made possible through each device’s unique Media Access Control (MAC) address, a hardware identification number that exists in all network-capable products at the time of manufacture. The Easts use these MAC addresses to manage their children’s Wi-Fi access times so that a good mix of internet, sports, activities and family time together can be achieved in a balanced way.

Randall and his team at TechAdvisors Home are always ready to help other Dayton-area parents successfully achieve this balance, noting that once implemented, the system is simple to maintain.

“It’s as easy as flipping a switch per kid for our customers,” Randall says. “Right from their phone.”

At first hesitant, the East children now embrace their parents' approach to managing technology for the structure it brings to their lives.

“I like it because, for me, it’s always on, ” says Sophie, 13. “I don’t get in trouble that much.”

To learn more about TechAdvisors Home, visit TechAdvisorsHome.com.

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