2018 Is Around The Corner, Is It Time for A Tech Diet?
It’s almost 2018 and tech is here to stay. No amount of inventive family activity planning, no screen time limits and no software or parental control can eliminate the presence of screens from our lives. Screens in every shape and form are in our kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, offices and classrooms. Screens have found their way into restaurants and museums and are found on outdoor signage and in public transportation too.
And if we are being honest with ourselves, we are all guilty—from toddlers with iPhones to pre-teens and teens hanging on to the last social media post and to—gasp—Mom and Dad, who happily find all sorts of distractions from adulting on their screen of choice—of a love for the very screens we may sometimes profess to hate.
Let’s face it, technology is not entirely to blame. It’s us. So instead of trying to banish tech to a dark corner of your house, embrace it with mindfulness. After all, ‘tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions. And like losing weight, exercising more, volunteering and all sorts of admirable goals that are just hard to pull off amidst the day-to-day grind, seeking technology balance is no small task. Our lives today are run at a pace that makes it difficult to be mindful of our dependence—ahem addiction—to technology. I’m not talking about the lives we post on social media, those relaxed, contented vacation pics or the idyllic family moments that, thanks to a still image, look so enviable. I’m talk IRL in all its frenetic and overwhelming glory.
So, what can a tech mindfulness mean for you and your family? Savvy Cyber Kids can help. Be sure to check out our ongoing series, the Parent’s Guide to Technology, for tips on how you and your family can thrive with technology. And in the meantime, commit to three New Year’s resolutions that will positively impact 2018:
1. Choose no technology at meals.
Make it a family rule to banish the iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and Mac devices from breakfast, lunch and dinner. The rule must apply to everyone to work. So, your kids can’t text or post on social media anymore. And you can’t check your emails or respond to a text. With screens “off the table” imagine what you can accomplish.
2. Make 2017 the last year your children go to bed with technology.
Devices need to go to bed at night in the family charging area—not in children’s bedrooms. Access to technology at night not only disrupts sleep patterns and builds poor sleep habits but it also creates an opportunity for unsupervised and dangerous online interactions. The exception to this rule is for older teens who need to start learning for themselves how to manage the distractions of independent living before they head off to college.
3. Talk more with your kids.
Have conversations with your children on all topics but especially about technology. Find out what’s up in their digital lives. Open—then maintain—the lines of communication with The Tech Talk. Most children will be able to tell you about how they have experienced negative online interactions from bullying and exposure to pornography to grooming by an online predator. And believe it or not, on average, kids are exposed to hardcore pornography between 8 and 11-years-old. Your children need to see you as a resource for their online safety. Remind your kids that if they make a mistake or see something that seems strange or weird, that you want to help them and they should come to you before the problem worsens.
When it comes to digital parenting, remember that today’s kids don’t know how to make smart decisions unless someone discusses cyber ethics topics with them. Start talking and Happy New Year!