Do you have a child that spends too much time on screens? Do you spend too much time on screens? I can just see you raising your hand. Screen management is clearly an issue for our time as parents, adults and children. Instead of bashing on screen use by saying "do less", "turn it off", "you spend too much time" let's work toward some good habits that help all of us establish a healthy balance.
Our founder Chris Cochella helped bring the movie Screenagers to his daughter's high school as well as Boulder Country Day School. For those of you that don't know about the Screenagers movie, it is a movie that fosters dialogue among kids, between parents and kids, and the community at large.
After each movie showing the audience engaged with psychologists and and school directors. We wanted to share the outcome of these discussions. Below are the top 10 habits for screen use discussed with real parents and kids. Each of these habits should involve everyone--kids and parents alike! Remember, people support what they help create.
Define your family’s Technology Principles – What are the main reasons we want to have balance in our lives regarding screen time and other activities?
- Talk weekly with your children about their technology use. Keep this an open dialog about what is working well or fun. What don't we like about screen use.
- Designate device-free family time. Set these up as agreed up on rules and a place where the screens live during this time.
- Schedule device-free social activities like sports, lessons, and volunteering. We are 3D people and live and thrive in a 3D world. Let go of that 2D device world.
- Keep devices out of the bedroom during sleeping hours. Sleep, especially for developing brains, is sacred.
- Consider a screen time or media contract. (Screen Time Contracts from Screenagers, Common Sense Media Family Media Agreement and Device Contracts)
- Be an educated parent. Signup for updates on device use and the habits of kids with the same ages.
- Stay abreast of the latest trends through email newsletters. (Recommendations below)
- Share and connect with other parents in person. Talk about what is working and not working. Talk about how you, as parents, can set a good example.
- Deploy monitoring and blocking strategies in your household. (See resources below). We included because it is relevant. However, be careful here. Implementing invasive monitoring methods is a part-time job and could backfire. We feel it is better to have open dialogues with your children than risk closing off communication through blocking and monitoring.
Keep in mind that we have evolved over many millennia to be social creatures living and interacting with 3-D space. Sure devices have a social nature but nothing like an in person conversation or hug. Moreover, devices are largely 2-D thereby eliminating our 3-D interactions. No matter your opinion on device use, it is a fact that products, travel, culture, food, shelter and so on exist in our 3-D world. To be a participant in the world necessitates a relationship with space.
- Common Sense Media - Empowers parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.
- Family Online Safety Institute - International, non-profit organization that works to make the online world safer for kids and their families.
- Psychology Today's Parenting in a Digital Age - This blog explores how parents and children might live together meaningfully in a digital age.
- Above The Fray - Program to educate parents and teachers about what life is really like online for young people and to give adults the tools they need to begin meaningful dialogues at home and at school.
- Richard Freed, Ph.D. - Child and adolescent psychologist, speaker and author of "Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age"
- Safe Smart Social- Monthly social media tips and updates
- Screenagers Tech Talk Tuesdays - Tuesday emails with conversation starters about social media, research, tech tips and much more to incite a dynamic conversation with your kids
- Common Sense Media - Age-based movie reviews, app recommendations, and more
- ARTICLE: Everything You Need to Know About Parental Controls – Great overview of how it all works
- Microsoft Family Safety - Block sites, set time limits, and see activity reports
- Circle with Disney - Filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home
- OurPact - Mobile guidance for your family, available for iOS and Android
- Screen Time - Parental controls for iOS, Android and Kindle devices
- Curbi - Parental controls for Android and Apple mobile devices
- ParentKit - Control and schedule what is on your child's iPod, iPad or iPhone
- NetSanity - Parental controls for iOS
- FamilyTime - Parental controls for iOS and Android
- Net Nanny - Parental controls for Android and iOS
- Mobile Fence - Parental controls and GPS tracking for Android devices
- Verizon Family Base - Monitor wireless activity and set usage limits
- AT&T Parental Controls - Manage internet and email activity on computers
- T-Mobile Family Allowances - Manage minutes, messages and downloads on phone
-Chris Cochella, Bracktiz inventor