Five Phone Habits to Set an Example for Your Kids

Reagan Fausett

Many in the parenting world today are concerned with cell phone usage negatively affecting their children. Headlines such as “Technology is Destroying Our Youth” are scaring parents into making all sorts of cell phone boundaries to prevent technology addiction in their children.

While parents should set some technology rules, there’s another method of teaching children good tech habits that parents might be overlooking: setting an example. Yep that’s right—actions do speak louder than words. Your child may hear the technology rules you give them, but if you yourself are breaking those rules, chances are your child will too. The way you are using technology might even be affecting how your child acts, learns and grows.

If you find yourself getting caught in the same technology traps you’re trying to protect your kids from, try out these five Troomi Tips to help create healthy phone habits:

Be Purposeful

All of us are guilty of mindlessly reaching for our phones when we’re bored, but with a little practice, you can break that habit.

Cut Back Usage

Let’s be honest, whether it’s being in line at the grocery store or taking the kids to the park, our phones have become mobile pacifiers. In reality, we don’t need to be checking our phones near as much as we do, so why not try cutting our cell phone usage back to the essentials?

Have a Purpose

Next time you reach for your phone, think about your purpose for using it. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you might have an unmet need. Are you bored, anxious, or stressed? Take a moment to analyze how you feel, then find a different activity to fill that need. Bored at the park with your kids? Engage with them as they play! You need to wind down after the day is over? Take out a good book or do some mindful meditation!

Be Intentional

Reaching for your phone might be a subconscious habit, as it is for many of us. In that case, put something on your phone that helps you remember to use it purposefully. This could be anything from a hair elastic to a mindful lockscreen photo of a quote or something symbolic to you. If you happen to have a picture of your grandma wagging her finger at you, that should work perfectly.

Establish Good Technology Habits

Create Screen Rules

Sit down as a family and make some screen use rules. These rules might include things like not using phones 30 minutes before bed or only checking social media for 30 minutes a day. Whatever they be, make rules that promote healthy phone habits for the whole family. Troomi phones are a great way to help the whole family set usage rules and get started on a path towards healthy technology habits!

Make Phone-Free Zones

While there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” plan for what zones should be phone-free, consider making bedrooms, bathrooms and the dinner table phone-free areas in your home. If your kids see you leaving your phone outside these zones, they’ll be much more willing to do it themselves.

Establish Phone-Free Times

Phone-free times can likewise help you focus on your family relationships without distraction. Just like you don’t love getting one word responses from your kids when they’re on their devices, they don’t love getting them from you. A study shows that children’s athletic performance is hindered when their parents are constantly distracted by their phones at a sporting event. Consider making times like playtime or attending a child’s extracurricular event phone-free times.

Avoid Technoference

Consider Children’s Point of View

If your child comes into the room and begins talking to you while you’re on your phone, you may find it difficult to listen since your attention is divided. Perhaps you’re doing something important, but your child only sees you sitting on your phone. Brandon McDaniel, assistant professor in Human Development and Family Science at Illinois State University, reminds us that children don’t necessarily understand your preoccupation like an adult would.

Make Eye-Contact 

We all have that one coworker whose eyes remain glued to their computer when you’re talking to them. Are they actually listening? We may never know. That’s why McDaniel suggests that you make eye-contact with your child when they speak to you to show them they have your full attention and that “the device doesn’t have more value than them.” 

Keep Track of Your Phone Use

A study on technoference shows a statistically significant correlation between the time you spend distracted by your phone and your child’s behavior. If your child has started to act out, pay attention to your phone use. Is your device getting in the way of giving your child the attention they need? Another study shows that uninterrupted time between a parent and child helps the child learn better. If you are constantly getting phone calls and texts while spending one-on-one time with your child, put your phone in a different room so you aren’t tempted to check it. 

Set Cell Phone Boundaries For Yourself

Take a Break

Setting cell phone boundaries looks different for everyone, but taking a break is always a good place to start. Whether it’s one day per week or even a week per month, a phone break can help you reorganize your priorities. 

Get a Phone Lock App

Phone lock apps tell you the amount of time you spend on your phone as well as on each app. They can also help you set limits on your phone usage so you can stay focused on what’s important. If you’re having a hard time controlling your own usage, a phone lock app is a good place to start!

Delete Social Media

Social media can be an unnecessary distraction. If you find yourself spending too much time scrolling, delete social media on your device for a specified amount of time or even for good. You might miss scrolling when you’re standing in a store line next, but not using social media will get easier with time.

Make a Cell Phone Usage Schedule

Set a Time to Check Your Email

We all have gotten on our phones to read an email only to get caught up for 30 minutes in responding to five others. That’s where setting a phone schedule comes in handy. Rather than just checking your email at random, choose a time to check and stick to it. 

Set a Time for Social Media

You might have some free time every day while your kids are at school, so set aside part of that time to sit down for half an hour and scroll through Instagram. Once that half an hour is up, you should be too. 

Explain the Purpose of Your Phone Use

Whenever you’re on your phone for an extended period, let your family know what you’re doing. If you need to check your phone throughout the day for work, let your family know you will be on your phone for a specific reason. That way your children understand what you’re doing. Try to keep phone time to a minimum while your children are around, and be sure to give them your full attention when they talk to you. 

Why Your Example Matters

When we allow our smartphones to take priority over our family responsibilities, we teach our children to do the same. Psychology professor Tracy Dennis-Tiwary worries “If we disrupt our one-on-one time by disappearing into our smartphones, then [our children] will learn to disconnect in similar ways.” 

So as fun as that new TikTok trend might be, make sure it isn’t getting in the way of developing healthy phone habits. Take the initiative to try out these Troomi Tips and start setting an example for your children when it comes to phone use.