Many families across the country have started back to school. The new school year is often a time of planning, preparation and hope. In the past two school years, every family has faced challenges and overcome obstacles like never before. But, everyone is eager to be learning, playing and growing together again. While school communities are implementing a safe and smart start to the new year, parents and caregivers are also working towards a fresh and healthy beginning for their children and teens.
One major component on the minds of families is screens, Internet use, and technology. In the past few years, our learners have needed their screens like never before. Parents and caregivers have relied on the education, connection, entertainment, and play technology provided, while also understanding that some screen habits have been out of balance or overused. This leaves families needing support to move forward with a positive and mindful plan for tech this school year.
- Check The Foundation: When thinking about tech use, it’s always important to go back to the basics. Does the way your family uses screens match your values? Does screen use in your home feel aligned with your children’s ages and stages of development? Integrate tech use in the same way you nurture other healthy habits and behaviors like nutrition, physical activity and social dynamics.
Tip: Create a family values statement to support your definition of healthy tech use.
- Reflect on the Tech: It’s easy to become overwhelmed by our technology. Often we don’t stop to think about the aspects of technology that we enjoy or are beneficial. Instead we only focus on the negative components and it leaves us feeling anxious and depleted. Spend time thinking about the way your family engages with screens and build your expectations and boundaries from there.
Tip: Assess what’s working (tech positive) and what isn’t working (tech challenges) to design a plan that works for your family.
- Tech Talk: Don’t be afraid to talk about tech in the same way you would talk about any other aspect of parenting and family life. Ask questions and engage to learn more about what your children are using, how it works and why they like it. Also, discuss tech expectations with your partner, co-parent or anyone providing care so everyone gets comfortable Talkin’ Tech.
Tip: Set regular Tech Talk Times each week to discuss a new topic with your family.
- Back to School iRules: A working tech agreement is a great tool to bring together family foundations, reflections, and conversations for tech success. Having some named expectations like a tech curfew, a list of approved games or websites, and time of day to play as the school year begins. This allows for both a reference point and guidelines to help support our children in their healthy and happy screen use.
Tip: Include your children in the process of co-creating your iRules as a great opportunity to build agency and understanding on building a tech healthy family.