Kids, Parents, and Technology
Admit it: you heard the sound in your head when you read that. And now you might even be checking your phone to make sure it really was in your head. For most of us, hearing that sound triggers a reflex reaction to reach for our phones. A sense of anticipation drives us to see what the notification is.
With instant news and instant messaging, it’s no wonder we crave instant gratification. We grew up without this technology, but it’s still a big part of our lives. Now just think about how much more integrated technology is in our kids’ lives.
Let’s look at ways we can identify bad screen time habits and how to make rules for a happier, more tech-friendly home.
Signs of Unhealthy Tech Use
Perhaps you’ve noticed some signs of unhealthy usage of technology in yourself or your children. Jon Lasser, psychologist and co-author of “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World,” outlines some of the red flags parents should watch out for when it comes to kids and technology.
- Your child feels bored or unhappy without access to technology. You’re on a remote family vacation without Wi-Fi and your kids moan, “there’s NOTHING to do here.” Sound familiar? If so, your kids might be starting to rely a little too much on their smartphones and gaming systems.
- Screen time limits or rules are met with tantrums. New family rules generally don’t go over well, but if you notice your younger children throwing tantrums when their access to technology is limited, they could be developing unhealthy usage habits.
Screen time takes over in-person communication, sleep, and school. Does your child tend to ignore you when they’re on their phone? Or are they getting low grades and frequently staying up late just to scroll through social media? If these parts of their life are being impacted by their screen time, it might be time to set some rules.
How to Help Your Child Develop Healthy Tech Habits
If these warning signs sound familiar, your child could be developing an unhealthy reliance on their screens. But in a world that’s practically run on technology, how do you prevent screen addiction? Here are five Troomi Tips to help you get started:
- Set screen time limits for kids. Set screen time rules for your child with your child about their phone use. These rules can be general, like no phone use while driving, but they should also be tailored to your child’s needs. As you and your child collaborate on making some rules, encourage them to be open with you about things that are difficult for them. If they struggle to focus on homework with their phone nearby, keep their phone until they finish or consider getting a Troomi phone. Troomi phones help make it easier to set screen-time limits with their optional access to social media and special parental control features. While you’re both at it, set some rules for the whole family as well so you can work towards healthier technology habits together!
- Be present. Impress upon your child’s mind how important it is to be present in the place they are. They might be connected to others over the phone, but they also need face-to-face interactions to maintain their happiness and wellbeing. 44% of people who constantly check their social media, email, or other notifications reported feeling disconnected from their family even when with them in person. It’s hard to be present when you’re distracted, so get your child a phone with limits to help them focus on the here-and-now.
- Create phone-free zones. To help your child be present, create phone-free zones for the whole family. These spaces will help your family engage in more face-to-face interactions and in turn strengthen your relationships with one another. These zones could be the dinner table or a family outing—whatever fits your family’s needs best.
- Don’t allow phones at least 30 minutes before bed. Make it a family ritual to put your phones in a room outside of your bedrooms every night at least 30 minutes before bed. Using technology too close to bedtime can stimulate your brain and make it more difficult to fall asleep. By removing the distraction, you and your children will have a much more restful sleep, not to mention better health, but let’s be honest—sleep is the perk here. Find more sleep tips for your little ones here.
- Give your support. No one likes being told what to do, and chances are, your child won’t be thrilled that you’re regulating their phone use. Instead of just telling your kids your expectations, explain your reasoning behind them. Help your kids feel loved and trusted. Let them know you want to be supportive, so you will check in on them occasionally and discuss any concerns you have with them. When necessary, adjust your action plan so it better works for both of you.
Setting screen time rules for kids can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible, and Troomi will be there every step of the way to help make your family’s journey to healthy and responsible technology use easier than ever before. For additional tips, check out this list from Defending Digital.