Years ago, our daughter received her first cell phone. She was so excited to upgrade her “flip phone” and step into the mobile internet world.
As parents, we soon found out her phone and all its capabilities were more than any of us could handle! Not only was she juggling a rigorous high school and competitive volleyball schedule, but now she was trying to manage her social life on a device.
Before we knew what was happening, she was melting down, and her sassy, erratic behavior was out of the norm. Something needed to be done. Her phone was the first thing to go since it was the most recent addition to her life and the only thing I concluded was the reason for her outbursts and sullen behavior.
I decided to take her phone away for 3 days. You may think this is outrageous, but back then it wasn’t. During these 72 hours, our daughter slowly came out of the fog of “plugged-in” overload. By the end of the 3 days, our delightful, vibrant 15-year old daughter returned to us refreshed, clear-headed and grateful for the forced break from a world she didn’t know how to maneuver.
Fast forward nearly 10 years later, and everyone is plugged in all the time. We expect to be connected to each other and the world 24/7.
Is it healthy for our kids and teens? Not exactly. We need down-time for our brains to process emotions. Kids need time to learn and develop skills that can build their confidence without comparing themselves to others all the time.
Yes, phones/mobile devices are the new normal. However, there are some great guidelines for raising your kids to practice healthy phone habits.
No Phones At Bedtime
Studies show kids aren’t getting enough sleep. Set up a charging station that you can monitor, and make sure your kids adhere to putting their phones in it before bedtime.
One Screen At a Time
Many kids are on their computer or watching TV and also scrolling through their phones. If they can’t finish a task without checking their phone, there’s a problem. Institute one screen at a time to keep your child focused.
No Phone Zone For Family Dinner
No phones at the dinner table. Period. Nowadays family dinner at the table is a privilege, and a time to check in and catch up. If your child doesn’t want to talk, don’t let them fill the void with their phone.
Get Your Homework Done First
Then let your kids earn extra time to use their phone. Whether you like it or not, teens connect digitally. Remember back when you spent time on your landline phone talking to your friends for hours. We may connect differently digitally today, but the one thing in common is connecting with friends.
Turn Off Notifications
If you don’t know it’s there, you won’t miss it. Turning off notifications can decrease your desire to check your phone incessantly.
Consider Apps To Limit Screen Time
Here’s an app highlighting the best app for limiting screen time.
Remember, if you are going to enforce these rules in your house, you must follow them as well and set the example for your children.
We may all be surprised. Instead of feeling like we are “missing something” with less screen time and notifications, we may find that we are gaining so much more – peace of mind, extra time, genuine conversations, and productivity to name a few.