5 Tips for Healthy Tech Habits in Your Family

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***This post was written by Beth, the original owner of TechieHomeschoolMom.com.

I am “that mom”.  You know, the one who wouldn’t feed her kids junk food when they were little.  I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to put something in your body, it should be worth it. It should be full of nutrients that will sustain you and help you grow. I did this in hopes that when my girls grew up, they would make good food choices (because they certainly aren’t going to be eating only at my table forever).

I was also diligent about teaching them to make good reading choices when they were young. As a former English teacher, I was comfortable discussing the attributes of a good read. I exposed them to rich literature and guided them toward good book choices. I wanted them to use their reading time wisely so they would grow in knowledge and their understanding of the world through the books.

So, with all my experience guiding my children toward healthy eating and reading habits, why has it been such a struggle to guide my kids towards healthy tech habits? You can read the extended answer to this question in A Mom's Greatest Struggle in This Tech-Driven World. But, in a nutshell, the “screen time war” is culturally a new experience, and we are the first generation of moms who needs to figure this out. We are digital immigrants raising the first generation of digital natives.

Let’s face it.  Computers and mobile devices are here to stay. Our kids are digital natives who have been born into an more advanced technological society than you and I were born into. And our kids need to know how to make the most of that technology, but in a healthy and productive way.

Your family needs to know how to use technology in a healthy and productive way. Read 5 tips for encouraging healthy tech habits in your family.


Healthy Tech Habits to Implement

#1…Model healthy tech habits

Mike and I are always reminding each other that “our kids will become us”. What are your kids learning as they observe your media habits? Do you surf the web excessively, getting sucked into Pinterest and the Blogsphere? Do you text and message compulsively, making response to notifications a priority in your life?

Your kiddos are watching and learning.  Consider exactly what they are learning as they observe your media habits.

#2…Identify useful & productive screen time 

No one can deny that digital tools make our lives so much easier.  Online shopping and banking…video chats with long-distance family…work productivity apps…what would we do without them? But, the Internet can also make our lives worse if we let it suck our time away and entice us with mindless entertainment.

Same goes for our kids. It is important for your family to differentiate between worthwhile tech time and useless tech time. To learn the difference, read “Are Your Kids Wasting Time on Electronics? 3 Questions to Ask.”

#3…Establish tech device guidelines

I encourage you to develop a standard for tech usage in your family. Your guidelines may not look just like the “Jones’” (just like your eating habits don’t look like theirs). But, you need to find what works for your family so that everyone understands the expectations about screen time.

Involve your kids in developing the guidelines so they have more ownership and understanding of your family's standards. Read “Why I Stopped Managing My Kids' Screen Time” to learn what works for our family.

#4…Monitor your family’s digital activities

I’m not going to try and teach you how to monitor your kiddos’ screen time because (being honest here) I am not good at monitoring my own kids.  I feel like it’s just one more thing to do. Since my kids have made smart choices so far, I haven’t made it a priority to figure out how to automate the monitoring. So, if you have any tips, chime in.

I do know that you can do a search for “monitor kids computer time” or something like that and learn from the experts (something I am “not” in this area)

#5…Work to find a solution when there is a problem

Don’t go on a screen time eradication campaign if your kids mess up. You need to help them form healthy media habits, not alienate them.

If the guidelines you established aren’t working, discuss them and adjust.  Discover why they don’t work and find a solution.

The first tech use standard I set in our home resulted in disaster. I had to micromanage it, and the girls were obsessing over their turn and bickering with each other. When we went to unlimited tech time, we had so much more peace in our home.

So, what do you think, my friend? Do you think you need to help your kids form healthy tech habits? Are these five things realistic? Which do you think will be the hardest for you to implement? Let’s talk about it.

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  1. Yeah, we monitor, plus, we have a service that sends a message of one of the kids ties to access an inappropriate site.

    I can’t monitor the time. I just can’t. Too many things are going on.

    2 sites – Norton family does a pretty good job with time and blocking. It works about 90% of the time. It does have its glitches.

    Another site is Mobicip. It’s a browser that blocks EVERYTHING that you don’t specify. We are still working with this one on the time issue. It hasn’t yet worked for us.

    We have a conference call scheduled with them on Monday.

    1. Thanks for sharing the info, Lisa! Keep me posted on how the Mobicip works out.

  2. I love tip #1. Kids do model their parents – and I want to make sure I’m a good model for my son!

  3. Such great tips. I feel like it’s a daily and weekly battle. We tend to change our rules depending on the season and the weather. Winter screen time is much more abundant simply because it’s snowy, cold and dark but in the summer when it’s sunny and light and warm I’d rather they be outside playing. It works well for us but the gradual change over when the kids are trying to remember what else they can do instead of screens is a killer.

    1. Yes – I’ve fought that battle too. You might be interested in these other two posts I’ve written. Search my the titles in the upper menu bar.

      “Why I Stopped Managing My Kids Screen Time”
      “Are Your Kids Wasting Time on Electronics? 3 Questions to Ask”

  4. We usually do about 2-4 weeks in the summer screen free. It’s been a good thing for us. We usually have a day or two of boredom at the beginning, but by the end nobody even minds not having it. We have one exception, because we regularly connect with family on Skype, we allow skype to be used on our kitchen computer. It has really helped my older kids to learn balance and realize there are a lot of things more productive they can do.

  5. Our daughter spends a lot of time on her tablet and I’ve been worried that it wasn’t healthy. I like how you suggest that helping kids with healthy media habits doesn’t mean you need to completely eradicate screen time. I think we will have a discussion about her screen time and come up with some healthy media habits together.

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