17 Jun 11 Ways to Guarantee Your Family’s Digital Wellbeing
There’s been a lot written about the importance of digital wellbeing and digital health recently, much of it focused on software tools. But what can parents do by themselves if they want to cut down on family tech time and guarantee digital wellbeing at home? It can be hard to your control tech time as a family, and plenty of us are guilty of slumping down in front of a screen and binge watching box sets on Netflix to unwind (while the kids are on YouTube) – just because it’s easy.
But using screens for leisure and play time, after a day on screens at school, is having an effect on our children’s mental and physical wellbeing. Technology is a necessary part of our lives – for both children and parents – but it’s important for us to try and bring balance to our technology habits and ensure that we’re taking the time to engage with our children in analogue activities and family time.
So how can you cut down on your family tech time and build your digital wellbeing? There are plenty of tips to help your kids cut down on device time, but we’ve got 11 ways to help both you and your children log off – as a family – when you need to.
#1 Be aware of your own habits
Although it may not seem like they are, your kids are very aware of how much time you spend on screens. With 27% of UK children saying that their parents have double standards about technology, you can’t expect your kids to cut back on their screen time when you’re not following the rules you set.
#2 Create digital wellbeing rules together
Both your and your children will be more likely to follow any no-tech rules if they had a say in creating them in the first place. Write up some sensible rules together, as a family. Typically these are things like; no phones during meals, no TVs in the bedroom, phones down after 9pm at night etc.
#3 Encourage socialising
Make sure you keep an eye out for activities that encourage your children to be social in person. This can be anything from clubs and sports, to just spending time together as a family chatting about their week. If you can’t convince your kid to spend time with you, suggest activities that are related to their interests or which involve other kids.
During the rebellious teen years, many children will drop out of school or college sports programmes. However, they may be more inclined to carry on with a sport or fitness activity if you let them decide what they want to do. During this exercise time, they’re less likely to use devices, and you can spend more quality time with them while they practice, e.g. go for a run together, ride your bikes into town.
#5 Discuss plans face-to-face
When it comes to establishing family plans for the day, week or month, discuss your plans with the whole family face-to-face rather than reaching for a device. Almost 2 out of 5 UK kids say that their parents communicate with them via messaging apps, email and social media whilst still under the same roof!
Instead of automatically diving into your family WhatsApp group, you’ll stimulate conversation and cut back on boredom, as well as discover what your family actually wants to do.
#6 Encourage no-tech role models
Ed Sheeran, Essana O’Neill and Eddie Redmayne are three high profile celebrities that have been very vocal about how they’ve stepped away from technology. Encourage your kids to look up to them and talk about why they might have decided to cut back on screen time.
#7 Focus on the positives
Try and avoid negative words when discussing reducing tech time with your children. Focus instead on positive outcomes, for example ‘family time’ (unless they’re teenagers, in which case that will make them cringe.)
#8 Ensure that you’re busy
The devil makes work for idle hands, so make sure yours are busy all the time. Suggest you all carry a book with you (we know, retro, huh?) so that you’re not tempted to mindlessly scroll through your phone when you’re on your morning commutes.
#9 Don’t go cold turkey
Make gradual changes to your children’s lives. If you try and take away all tech in one go, you’re more likely to encounter resistance to your plan. Instead, try cutting down on a couple of hours per device at a time.
#10 Keep screens out of their bedrooms
Keeping screens out of your kids rooms is a sure fire way to get them downstairs at least – which is when you spring the trap that you’ve got a family activity planned, or just grab them for a chat.
#11 Stand your ground
When you first introduce these tips and techniques, it’s inevitable you’ll encounter some arguments. But it’s by standing your ground and being consistent that your kids will remember who’s in charge, you, not their devices!