Technology is good, just like food is good. But both need limits for a healthy life.
When our eating habits get out of control, we ingest smaller portions or choose to put certain foods off limits. Technology overload is no different. Here are ten ideas on how to take “tech breaks” to get back into balance.
1. Check phones and devices at the door. Many families are choosing to turn in phones after school and work to protect family time. Once the phones are on the chargers, the night is for homework, meal and family time. Require that homework on the computer be done in a common area.
2. Check phones and devices at events. Having a party? Let kids and parents know their phones and devices will be checked until pick-up time. Have a basket ready!
3. Plan your next adult gathering tech-free. Let invitees know that phones will be stored to allow everyone to spend time together. Play charades or use some conversation starters that include everyone. Wouldn’t that be a great trend?
4. Have one night a week that is technology free. Family or couple or single, choose to engage that night without the TV, without the computer, without phones. Get creative, take a walk, play a board game, bake or cook supper together.
5. Set a regular time of night that all phone and online communication ends. Phones are gathered and held by mom and dad unless permission is asked. Talking to a boyfriend or girlfriend until a child falls asleep is never a good idea. Call it “sleeping together,” and just say no.
6. Plan a tech-free vacation. No, it’s not crazy. You need this. Schedule a single movie, or two. Have one phone on hand for emergencies and pictures. Leave the rest at home. Swim, walk, talk, sleep in, play games, explore, and learn to share and work together. It doesn’t have to be every vacation. Just one (or even a part of one!)
7. Wait longer to give phones and/or devices to kids. A child’s first phone should be used for emergencies only. Know exactly what the phone is capable of FIRST. If it’s higher tech than you’re willing to manage, buy a simpler phone. Teach your child that a phone is a not an appropriate status symbol, but a tool that requires great responsibility and can be taken away at any time.
8. Don’t hesitate to remove a phone or device from any child’s possession if they are young enough to live in your house. If you are paying for the phone, you decide how it’s to be used. If they are paying for the phone, you still make the house rules. A phone is not required for survival. Do not award a phone to a child without the character to manage it honorably.
9. Set limits on your own phone and devices. Check phone messages, email or social networks at limited times during the day.
10. Choose ring tones that alert you to calls from family members. This allows you to be available to your kids, spouse or parents while saving other conversations for later.
Some of these ideas may sound daunting at first, but start with an easy one and work up. You may be surprised at the changes you see, and at how much you’ve been missing. So what are you waiting for? Make some tech-free plans today!