Parental Tips

5 Healthy Tech Habits for the New Year

By: Kristen Hewitt

As the calendar year changes many set goals and resolutions for the new year. But as I looked around my own home, that could use a good decluttering – I realized we also needed to declutter our lives. Not just our closets, diet and exercise, but tech habits too.

Our kids check their phones as soon as they wake up, video games dominate on the weekend, and many times, I notice an unhealthy addiction to devices…me included. The phone is always in my hands or close by, and as parents we model the behavior we see in our children. As hard as it is to stomach, our children are our mirrors, and when we see them frequently on a device, there’s a good chance they see the same reflection.

So here’s what we decided to do in the upcoming year with phones, iPads, Nintendo Switch, SnapChat, BeReal, You Tube…all of it. These five healthy tech habits for the new year will hopefully help us all stay safe online – and disconnect a bit,  so we can connect with our heads up in real life.

Does your family have healthy tech habits? Read how one mom is adding new safety precautions to reduce tech addiction.

5 Healthy Tech Habits for the New Year

1. Charge phones in a common space. This deters kids from overdosing on screentime at night when adults are asleep, and allows us all to do other things before grabbing our phones in the morning.

We also always require that our girls only use their devices in the family room or kitchen – no phones in the bedroom. (And if devices are in their bedrooms, supervised) Not only does this prevent hours of online time when they should be sleeping, but it also removes the temptation and opportunity to engage in unsafe behaviors online when no one is watching.

Does your family have healthy tech habits? Read how one mom is adding new safety precautions to reduce tech addiction.

2. Set screentime limits. It’s always a good idea to ask kids, “How much screentime do you really feel like you need per day?” Their answer might surprise you. Our kids told me that an hour a day was enough for them, or they start to feel drowsy. (I call this MSB, Mushy Brain Syndrome!) We then allow more time for video games on the weekends. Pick what works for your family, but set it and stick to it if you can.

An easy way to keep kids accountable to their screentime, without adding another job to your plate, is to take advantage of parental controls available on most games and devices – the screentime app on Apple products is a great way to “set and forget” agreed upon screentime limits without the daily fight.

3. Make dinner time a no phone zone. Bring dinner time back to the family – keep all devices out of sight, and out of mind. This will encourage conversation and provide some much-needed connection. Again, parents need to lead by example here, but when you take the time to disconnect, you might be surprised what kids will share and what meaningful conversations you can have.

Does your family have healthy tech habits? Read how one mom is adding new safety precautions to reduce tech addiction.

4.  Schedule device free activities. It could be family walks, shopping, beach trips or game night.  Any time you can do things together without tech is a win.

5. Check devices regularly. This is super important and something all families need to implement. Communicate to your children before you hand over the device that there will be weekly checks. (This can be laid out in a contract.) As long as they know there will be boundaries, this will ensure safety from strangers on the internet. Look through texts, DM’s, search history, and all social media platforms. I know this is hard, so if you need help, a third party app like Bark is a wonderful monitoring option.

Navigating the internet, phones, iPads, laptops, video games, multiple social media platforms and more can be time consuming and difficult. But you can use technology to help you monitor your kids. Child Rescue Coalition has written a short handbook called C.R.A.M.

With C.R.A.M., you’ll learn practical tips to keep your kids safe online, how to talk to kids about predators by age group, how to recognize the signs of grooming, what to do if a predator contacts your child, and you’ll get device settings and safety tips for popular online games. Download your free copy today!