Overview: Digital wellness is a healthy relationship with technology, regardless of a person’s age. Techniques for encouraging digital wellness include setting schedules for certain device usages, such as gaming; setting screen time limits in a given day; limiting what apps can send notifications; and leaving devices behind during certain times of the day.
Why Digital Wellness?
Evidence is increasingly pointing toward the fact that technology in of itself is neither good nor bad, but how you use it can detract from or enhance your mental and even physical health. For example, endless scrolling on Instagram when you’re struggling with self-esteem may be detrimental, but participating in an online support group can help.
What’s true of adults is also true of kids. Here are a few digital wellness strategies to try and why they work.
Once you understand why an app does the things it does, it’s much easier for your family to manage it. Kids should understand, for example, why games have mechanics like “energy” on a timer that limits how much they can play and why you can buy more “energy.”
They should also know why social media apps will tell them they have “notifications” even if that notification isn’t something they actually care about. And they should understand what happens with their data. Knowledge is power when managing device use, and empowering your kids is your best strategy to encourage healthy habits.
Leave Devices Out of Bedrooms
Create a “charging area” where devices like game consoles, tablets, and phones are kept after a certain time of night. This both prevents scrolling through phones when kids should be in bed and encourages a routine where shutting a device off helps everyone transition into sleep mode.
This can also apply to other areas of the house, such as the dining room during meals and the living room during daylight hours, or when there’s homework to be done.
Most apps on your devices don’t need to notify you. But since notifications are meant to drive engagement, they will ping you relentlessly if you let them. This can be annoying and distracting, yet it can also be easy to manage if you spend a little time in the devices’ settings. Set a “whitelist” of apps, such as email, that should be allowed to notify kids, and the rest can be shut off.
Schedule Usage Times
It’s rare that anybody can step away from screens entirely. However, different uses should be scheduled for different times, and certain usages should have time limits. Gaming is one example, but social media, messaging, and other potentially absorbing apps should also be considered for time limits. This can also apply to certain devices, like game consoles or tablets.
Many of these strategies really need to apply to the whole family. Kids learn from watching what their parents do, so family agreements and self-awareness are particularly important. If you make a dedicated effort to maintain your own digital well-being, your family will follow suit.
Screen Time Has Your Back
At Screen Time, we want to help you guide your kids toward better digital decisions. The internet is a rich resource for educational content, wholesome entertainment, and family fun, and we’ll help you find them. But we also know that unhealthy content and too much screen time can be harmful to kids.
Our goal is to help families find the digital sweet spot — the right balance of screen time and time spent doing other healthy activities, like pursuing hobbies and exploring the outdoors. We offer parental control software to help families find that balance because we know that busy parents can often use a helping hand.