The average American family will spend $765 on immediate family this year for Christmas. If you are like most parents with teenagers, you might as well tack on a couple hundred dollars extra. As they get older, the gifts get more expensive because they are inevitably tech related. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, here are a few tips to help make Christmas morning go a little smoother.

Most parents will go to the store, purchase the latest tech toy, and wrap it up without another thought. Parents will do endless research when it comes to choosing a car, moving into a new house, or helping their teen find the right college. But when it comes to tech: “Meh, it just a cell phone, right?” Before you slip that new iPhone 6, Xbox One, Samsung Galaxy, and Fire tablet under the Christmas Tree here are few things you should do first.

Turn On the Gift

Take that little gizmo out of the package and turn it on. The majority of parents report being intimidated by the tech gifts they give. Spend just 30 minutes on the device looking around even if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels not knowing where to go next. Most new tech devices come with intro videos that show you much about the device. Take time to do the initial setup. This will not only give you confidence in using it, but you also feel less awkward about having conversations later with your child about their device.

Turn on Parental Controls

Virtually device today has access to the Internet. This means you are putting something in your child’s hand with access to any website in the world with no restrictions. It’s important that you protect your teen’s heart and mind by setting up reasonable, age-appropriate boundaries. If you have an Android phone click on Menu/Settings/Content Filtering. On any Apple iDevice click on Settings/General/Restrictions. For a PS4 you go to Settings/Parental Controls/Sub-account.

Set Time Restrictions

The average teenager plays more than 14 hours of video games and send 1000 text messages each week. The typical texting teen is losing one hour of sleep each night because of texting in bed. As a parent, you can’t play fantasy football at work because your boss has given you restrictions. Do the same for your child. Let them know when the phone should be off, laptop closed, and video games shut down. You be the one to set the pace and clearly explain your expectations.

Sign a Contract

If you are buying a phone for your teen or tween, you had to sign a contract before walking out of the store. Isn’t it reasonable that your child sign one with you as well. A cell phone contract spells out the what/when/where of the expectations. You can download one from When it’s time to have a talk about misuse or a broken boundary, you bring the contract with you that you both signed in the beginning. Using the contract as the standard and not your emotions can help keep the conversation from getting out of control.

Have Some Fun Together

If you’re giving your teen a phone, take a selfie together with their phone. Ask them to show you their favorite app and join with them. Have them show you their favorite feature about their device. You may loathe video games, but for today take a few minutes and play with them. Tech will always be a part of their life. Connecting with them over it shows them that you want to be a part of the things that are important to them.

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