Helping Your Kids Balance Phone Use and Family Time

Reagan Fausett

We’ve all seen a family out for dinner together but instead of talking with each other, they’re all on their phones. We might shake our heads at this, but the thing is, we’re all guilty of getting sucked into our phones (don’t tell me you’ve never burned cookies in the oven while scrolling Instagram). Fortunately, understanding why we go into a “technology trance” can help us have the right conversations with our children and make healthy changes in our family lives.

How Technology Disconnects Us From the World

You pick up your phone, and suddenly an hour has gone by—how does that happen! There are many reasons why we turn to our phones so frequently and for so long:

Media is Designed To Be Addictive

Apps know how to get your attention and keep it. They provide infinite scrolls and send notifications to you when you’re gone too long. And of course they make you feel good when you see a like or retweet. When you know how apps try to keep you glued to your phone, you can take back control.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

No one wants to be alone when all of their friends are having fun without them, so we turn to our phones to see what others are up to. We also don’t want to miss any news, sales, funny memes, etc. All this leads to increased screen time, because the more time you spend on your phone, the less likely you’ll be “out of the loop.”

Phones Distract Us From Our Problems

Your kids have homework, soccer practice, social obligations, etc. Phones offer your children a moment to “turn off” their brain and relax—which can be a good thing! We all need a break sometimes. But too much dependence on phones for down time can turn into a bad habit.

How to Manage Screen Time

Technology is a very powerful influence on children, so we should be mindful as we help them manage their screen time. Are your children addicted to technology? There are a few steps you can take to help your child reduce the time they spend in front of a screen:

Talk About It!

Sit down and create a plan with your kids. Ask them how much phone time they think is reasonable. Set goals and expectations, then hang your new family phone rules on the fridge and review it together daily to check in.

Turn off The Wi-Fi For a Minute

Try turning off the Wi-Fi but allow your child to keep their phone. Without the internet they’ll have less online distractions and might find more interesting activities in the physical world. Plus, they can learn to build in-person relationships. Start small by turning off the Wi-Fi for an hour, then two hours, and see how long you all can survive without Wi-Fi. 

Get a Troomi Phone

Wondering how to regulate social media? Troomi’s got you covered. Troomi offers a parent portal that helps educate you and your child about when the right time is to introduce new apps and features like social media. That means you can still be the “cool mom” (or dad) on the block and get your kids a smartphone without worrying about them having access to content that isn’t age-appropriate. These app-enabling features also help teach your children how to use social media responsibly.

Be An Example

If your children see you making a concerted effort to set aside time for them, they’ll be more willing to do the same for you. According to a study by Common Sense Media, parents average over nine hours in daily media use—so adults need to be mindful too! We should remember to be patient with our children and ourselves as we learn to live with and without technology.

How to Spend More Time as a Family

Have you ever wondered how social media affects relationships? Or, more importantly, how technology can affect child and parent relationships? As children become more and more connected online, it can become harder to form real-world relationships—relationships with siblings, friends, and even with you. That’s why prioritizing family time is so important. Here are some ways to build your relationship with your kids:

Schedule Family Time!

When you schedule family time without phones, your kids can mentally prepare to leave their phones behind for a while and focus on their family. Try a quick card game every night after dinner. Or maybe every day at noon you can all go on a walk. Even a short amount of non-phone family time can make a big difference, and it can also help your children (and you) make a habit out of putting phones down when the family is together. 

Use Technology Together

Send memes to each other. Make a family TikTok (you don’t have to share it). Or make a designated phone time when you can get together to share photos you took during the day or videos that made you laugh. There are lots of apps that can help you come closer as a family, so don’t discount technology altogether. Tech time can be together time!

Connect One-On-One

Along with getting the whole family together, make sure you spend some one-on-one time with each of your children. If they don’t feel like they’re getting enough attention at home, they’ll be more prone to constantly use their phones. Children addicted to technology is the last thing you want to worry about. So take time to talk about their day, their interests, their struggles—make meaningful conversation and listen! This will help you strengthen your relationship with each child and show them you really care. Plus, if your children have a closer connection with you, they’ll be more likely to come to you for protection and advice if they ever come across something harmful or inappropriate while on their devices.