Stephanie Seferian, host of Sustainable Minimalists podcast, chatted with our CEO, Bill Brady, about the importance of family time, child safety, and approaching our children’s phone use with an attitude of minimalism.
We rely on devices for just about everything from entertainment to safety and everything in between. If you’re like me, your phone is with you from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed at night, and it’s probably the first thing you reach for at the start of your day. If that sounds familiar, focusing on digital minimalism may be for you! Not sure where to start? Read on for a quick summary of Bill’s tips for creating a culture within our homes that prioritize in-person time as opposed to screen time and then check out the full podcast episode to learn more.
What is Digital Minimalism?
Digital Minimalism is taking a proactive approach to limiting or reducing the role technology plays in our lives. It’s not just about deleting accounts or organizing your inbox – it’s more about intentionality and making sure you are controlling the tools at your disposal, and not the other way around.
Why Should I Pursue Digital Minimalism?
In short, digital minimalism can help improve mood and quality of life for both kids and adults. Bill relates that back in 2007 when the iPhones were first released, we didn’t have a clue as a society what the fallout would entail. There are numerous studies now showing a direct correlation between time spent on social media and poor mental health, with teens suffering significantly. More screen time also means more dangers in the forms of predators and cyberbullying. Being intentional about your screen time and how your kids are using screens and technology could help prevent heartache.
How Can I Achieve Digital Minimalism?
Prioritize the Current Moment
As Bill relates in the podcast: “It’s about intentionalism; it’s about having a purpose for everything we do, and prioritizing the relationships that matter most over the relationships that are virtual.”
Give Your Devices a “Time Out”
An easy way to begin your journey toward digital minimalism is to set up “time outs” for your devices. Bill suggests starting with these:
- Dinnertime. Have a set, structured dinnertime to improve relationships with your family members. Whatever the family structure, try to share a meal together device free.
- Give your device the whole day off (Sundays, for example)
- During family gatherings or when friends are over
- An hour before bed. Did you know getting off screens at night can help you sleep better?
- Bonus Tip: Charge your screens in a room other than your bedrooms!
Identify it as a Tool or a Tyrant
As technology has advanced, the barriers between work and home life balance have been blurred. Bill states: “If you’re tied to that device all the time, you’re not controlling it—it’s controlling you. As soon as that happens, we’re not there for the individuals in our lives who matter the most.” As a society, we’ve created an expectation that we are always online and we will always respond. But that doesn’t have to be your reality!
- Set expectations with others about when you are or aren’t available and when you will respond.
- Establish specific times during the day to be answering emails
- Give your full attention. When you’re talking to someone in person, they need your full attention. That can’t happen if you are splitting your attention between them and your device. Put your phone down and ignore it throughout the duration of that conversation.
- Be aware of the message you’re sending. If you aren’t wanting to communicate to someone that your device is more important than they are, take some time to evaluate how you can change your actions to reflect what you want to communicate to others.
- Set an example. Sometimes simply taking the time to remove your phone from your person will help you focus on the present moment.
Parents can provide their children with a better pattern – a non-digital pattern – for building relationships and learning and growing. You will always default to screens if you aren’t intentional about how you spend your time, so put some restrictions around it for yourselves and your children.
How Can Troomi Help?
In addition to the tips above, you’ll want to find the right device to support your digital minimalistic habits for you and your family.
Troomi is a mobile network for kids, providing both the phone and the phone service with a unique KidSmart™ operating system enabling parents to graduate their kids from one level of functionality to the next (based on needs and maturity) without having to upgrade devices.
“I think that as a parent, custom fitting the cell phone experience to the child is the epitome of intentionality around cell phone use,” said Stephanie Seferian, Sustainable Minimalist Podcast host.
If you’re wondering what the right age is to give a child a cell phone, Bill suggests taking a couple things into consideration:
- Maturity of your child. Cell phones aren’t one size fits all, so identifying what your child’s needs and levels of responsibility are is important.
- What is the intended use? Maybe your child needs specific apps for school, or maybe you just need a way to get in touch with them at soccer practice. Identifying how your child will use their device can help in deciding when and what to give them.
Bill sums it up by saying: “I think the answer really lies in starting younger kids with a very limited experience and graduating them into increasing levels of responsibility as their needs and maturity evolve.”
Introducing children to technology may sound scary, but if done intentionally, Troomi believes it can help them learn, grow, nurture talents and hobbies, and excel in school. The safety and flexibility of Troomi can help set your child up to achieve their potential.
Listen to the complete podcast interview here.