If you feel that technology has taken over your home, making it impossible for your family to have any quality time together that doesn’t involve staring at a screen, you’re not alone! Technology is a wonderful tool for education, entertainment, and convenience, but it can also cause problems with connection, activity, and engagement. If you’re looking to change your family’s technology use, consider starting 2016 off with new tech resolutions for your family! Here are a few ideas to help you get started with making goals for a new start to 2016.
Declare technology-free hours each day. These hours should ideally occur when your entire family is gathered together, but it can also be an excuse to reduce overall screen time for your family. During these “quiet” times, you can complete chores and other household tasks, read real paper books, or engage in a genuine conversation with one another. With time, your family might not even miss their smartphones during these hours.
Commit to keeping your hands off your phones until your work day begins. Is there really any Facebook update that is so critical that you have to read it as soon as you roll out of bed in the morning? Can that text really not wait? What about your email: does flipping through your inbox first thing in the morning really fill you with a sense of accomplishment, or does it just stress you out because you have no idea how you’re going to get to everything on the list? Instead of starting your day off with technology, try having breakfast together as a family. Encourage your teens or your spouse to get in a workout first thing in the morning. Connect with one another instead of with your devices. You might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes in your day. For your kids and teens they sometimes have a difficult time not checking their favorite app! One of my favorite services is Netsanity and their Appblocker feature, which can be used to block and restrict certain social apps such as Instagram, AfterSchool, Ask.FM, and many others.
No technology at the table. If you’ve begun to wonder whether or not your children are actually spending meal time with you, as opposed to with their cell phones, tablets, or computers, banish technology from the table during mealtimes. Sit down together and eat as a family. Discuss your day. Your kids (or spouse!) might rebel against this rule at first, but you’ll discover that with time, you’ll learn to enjoy time together again.
Plan one family activity each week. Resolutions are best when they’re very clear and specific. It’s also often easier to add something than it is to take it away. In this case, you’re not subtracting technology time specifically (though you should limit technology use while you’re together). Instead, set aside specific times to participate in family activities. Plan a family game night, go out to eat as a family, or get more active and go for a hike, to a museum, or to a craft show. Challenge your kids and spouse to keep their phones in their pockets throughout the interaction, or even leave them in the car!
Check your email no more than once per hour. Unless you’re waiting for an urgent, work-related email, there’s no reason to keep refreshing your email. By that same token, you shouldn’t jump every time your phone buzzes to let you know that you have a new email. What are the odds that the email is really spam? Sure, you’ve only wasted thirty seconds checking your email–but how many times throughout the day are you giving up that time? Turn off the automatic notification on your phone and check your email just once an hour or, even better, only at specific times throughout the day: perhaps at the beginning of the work day, at lunch time, and at the end of the day. You’ll be surprised by how much your productivity increases as a result.
Host a technology-free week each year, starting with 2016. Your kids may feel as though they can’t get along without their technology, but they’ll be surprised by just how much they can accomplish and even enjoy when they set their minds to it. Commit to a technology-free week as a family and watch your kids learn how to live creatively again.If your child has a mobile Apple or Android device, a service like Netsanity could be just what you need! They have a suite of services their Timeblocker scheduler, can be used daily to ensure that your teens and kids enjoy other activities regularly! Some families choose to block internet access during homework hours or at bedtime.
Overall, balance in all aspects of our lives is the key to keeping both parents and kids happy and healthy all year long. Happy 2016!
Netsanity was made by parents for parents. With easy to use software designed to give control and sanity back to parents, Netsanity enables a safer and healthier mobile experience for kids. See for yourself with a free trial!
Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.