Parenting in this digital age is tough. We all struggle to set healthy boundaries in our families when it comes to tech. What is a busy parent to do? What are some feasible changes we can make in our homes to encourage creativity, wonder and exploration? How can we reduce the amount of time we are all spending on screens?
Commit to these 6 simple changes for you and your children:
(1) Turn off notifications on your smartphone. From sun up to sun down, we are bombarded by a constant stream of dings, flashes, and red badges screaming for our attention and pulling us away from our family. Turn them off. Go to your settings on your phone and scroll to "notifications" and select off. Social media notifications should be the first to get the boot.
(2) Check in all devices by 8:00 p.m. for everyone's sanity. We all need to unplug. Setting a time boundary for when family members may use screens helps curbs usage. Stop using your smartphone as an alarm clock and buy an alarm clock if you don't have one already. Removing smartphones and tablets from your bedroom and your children's bedrooms eliminates the temptation to mindlessly surf and scroll. This wastes time and sleep!
(3) Carry a book with you at all times. With a book by your side, your default mode will be reading not scrolling social media or cramming a few emails when you have a couple of minutes. Encourage your children to keep a book with them as well. Stash a few books in the car so your family always has a book to grab. What a difference it will make to encourage your children to read instead of consuming mindless entertainment on a smartphone or tablet!
(4) Remove social media apps from phones. I know going complete cold turkey may be a tall order. Instead, remove the apps from phones and just check in with your social media circles on computers. This will help you limit the amount of time your family is spending on social media.
(5) Eliminate screens from the ordinary. Daily activities like grocery shopping, carpool, and doctor appointments are a good place to put the kibosh on screens. Nix TV shows in the car and save them for long road trips. Ask your tyke to help at the store instead of handing her your smartphone. Encourage your children to watch their sister’s soccer game or just daydream instead of bringing the iPad to the field. Permit quietness and restlessness as you wait for the doctor instead of game playing or social media surfing.
(6) Delay the smartphone for your children until at least 8th grade. Did you know that the average age a child gets a smartphone is 10 years old? These devices are quickly changing childhood for children. Playing outdoors, spending time with friends, reading books and hanging out with family is happening a lot less to make room for hours of snap chatting, instagramming, and catching up on You Tube. Join more than 8,000 families today by taking the Wait Until 8th pledge, and give your child more years free of smartphone distractions. Let's let kids be kids a little longer.
By taking these simple steps, you will help protect your family against overusing technology. You will open up time and space to flourish as a family and not be distracted by the often demanding online world.