Get off your phone!

Posted on in Featured · Parents: Kids, Tech & Their Future

10+ tips for parents trying to disconnect their children from their screens in order to connect them to the world around them. *(See below)

  1. Employ the 30/70 rule during their free, unstructured time. When they are not doing something structured or organized, only allow them to have their device in front of them 30% of the time. Help them to understand the privilege of having an expensive, powerful device.
    1. Between phones, tablets, computers and tv’s, Canadians spend between 5.5 and 6.5 hours a day in front of some type of screen. That is too much for our children.
  2. Model the behaviour you want them to demonstrate. Try not to be obsessed with your own devices while in their presence. Model disconnecting yourself. It’s the only way they will believe what you say on this topic.
  3. Do not allow their phone to be present in their room during homework time or while sleeping. If they use the ‘alarm clock’ excuse, buy them an alarm clock.
    1. My theory is that even when alerts are turned off, being in close physical proximity to the device is still distracting for kids. When it is in a different part of the house, the distraction is less powerful, especially over time.
  4. Surprise them with a fun activity. Do something, anything with them that allows for conversation, activity, or contemplation. Leave all phones at home, even for the car ride!
  5. Read with them. Reading a physical book is one of the single biggest predictors of academic success. It is healthy, cost effective, and has a myriad of mental, physical, and emotional benefits. Helping to foster a life-long love of reading is one of the best gifts that you can give your child.
    1. Turn going to the library or bookstore into a fun family activity together.
  6. Challenge them to build something. Give them a bit of money, some tools, a workspace, a trip to Home Depot or Michael’s, and challenge them to build something. Anything.
  7. As a condition of their having a phone/computer/device and a data plan that you pay for, reserve the right to access their phone at your discretion. The spectre of your viewing their online behaviour will positively impact their behaviour.
  8. Develop strict rules around ‘screen time’ that match your expectations and values as a family. Don’t waiver from these rules. When they are violated, be ruthless with your consequences.
    1. For example, No screens during breakfast or dinner. Talking or reading a physical text only.
  9. Become knowledgeable about the importance of sleep and the negative impact that devices have on young people’s sleep patterns. This knowledge will arm you with the courage to restrict their device usage.
    1. Healthy sleep guidelines
  10. Employ the “not my child” rule when they tell you that everybody else has, does, or is allowed to…complaint. In other words, stick to your family rules and expectations even if they might be out of step with what others may be doing.
  11. BONUS: In case you are wondering what the tech titans of the world do in their own homes.
    1. Screen Time v play time: what tech leaders won’t let their own kids do
  12. DOUBLE BONUS: 5 things that we do in our home.
    1. No one got a phone until grade 8
    2. No Xbox during the week
    3. No screen time during dinner
    4. Xbox only when you ask permission
    5. Read as a family at least 1x/week.

* 3 things to think about with this complicated topic:

  1. Screen time is new, so the research on the effects on a child’s brain is limited.
  2. Common sense can prevail, however. Despite not having years of research and study, we do know that screens take away from kids sleep; we know kids need more sleep; we can make a positive change on this front right away by being judicious about screen time.
  3. Not all screen time is equal: texting, social media, Netflix, youtube, internet viewing, computer time, video gaming, e-reading etc. etc. Not all of it is bad. Moderation is always prudent. Young children (under age 5) really shouldn’t be spending much time in front of the screen. Teens are developmentally more equipped to handle more screen time, but they are also more prone to getting negatively influenced as well.+ An article of interest

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