It’s 2017, and the digital world is more interconnected than ever! From innovative social media apps to classroom communication tools, (hello Edmodo) people are more reliant on technology than ever before to communicate and connect with the world around them. This intense connection to our digital devices is particularly the case for our children. With over 84% of kids having access to a device in their home, there is an expectation for our children to have a firm grasp on the latest tech innovations.
While there are many benefits to embracing new technology for your family, using devices in the home can quickly become a slippery slope. Allowing technology to dictate our availability in our personal lives and quickly lead to a disconnected household.
So take charge of your family’s media use this year and create healthy habits with technology for your household.
A great first step in establishing healthy media habits for your family is removing devices from designated family time. From dinner time to walking the dog, consider outlining the technology-free activities that your family enjoys and make it a rule to keep digital tools out of the picture. You can have everyone in the family put their smartphones, tablets, or other devices into a communal basket or box before you start the activity or meal. This can help your children understand that it’s a cooperative effort for the whole family to stay connected and present with each other.
By establishing tech free guidelines, you’re exhibiting a healthy relationship with technology for your kids all while having meaningful family interactions.
Studies show that using devices at certain times of the night can negatively affect sleep schedules. The blue-white light emitted by most smart devices with bright screens can actually hinder your body’s release of the hormone melatonin, which helps you sleep. A few features have been released to help combat this phenomenon, like iOS’ Night Shift mode and f.lux for desktop computers, but those aren’t going to solve everything.
Consider setting a rule that certain devices like phones and tablets can’t be used 30 minutes or an hour before bedtime. You can use this time for before-bed routines like brushing teeth, showers, and so on. Or, if your children insist on entertaining themselves, reading a book on paper or an e-ink screen should avoid the problem.
Even with designated device free time; we know that there is no escaping our kid’s connection to their digital identity which is why practicing good digital citizenship habits is a must. Digital Citizenship means giving your child communication tools that were unheard of even 15 years ago. And with social media as a blank page where they can write just about anything or send private messages, it’s a good idea to establish a ground rule to help them understand the responsibility of their messaging.
Consider practicing the grandmother rule with your child. Ask them to think about how their grandmother would react to their post or comment. (Feel free to substitute another family member if their grandmother isn’t very close to them.) Is it something their grandmother would approve of? Something that would make them concerned or disappointed? This is just a general guideline, since not every grandmother may understand new trends or emerging types of humor. But you can drive the point that the heart of the message, whether it’s a joke or a simple life update, should be something that would make their grandmother smile.