Many families are resolving to use their phones less in 2020 as part of their New Year’s resolution to be closer. But that can be tough to do since exciting and useful features are always being added to phones. Here’s how to create a resolution that sticks.
Talk About Why
Research into habits has told us that you only change a habit when you truly examine the motives behind it. The people who start going to the gym to get a six-pack drop away quickly, but the people doing it for deeper motives, like personal health or to support a family member, persevere. So talk about why you want the whole family to use screens in a more healthy manner, and lead by example.
Define Healthy Screen Time
The average adult spends three hours a day looking at their phone, but not all looks are created equal. Kids, in particular, may be expected to use their screens to do homework, to coordinate projects, for tutoring, and in the case of teens, to pick up shifts at their jobs. So defining what you mean by “screen time,” such as social media, goofing off on texts with friends, and so on, will be important to your resolution.
Tidy Up Your Phones And Chargers
Part of the reason we spend so much time on our phones is that our phones demand all our time. If you let them, they will constantly beep, buzz, shake, and otherwise try to summon you to look at the screen. But – and this is important – you don’t have to let them. Sit down as a family and go app-by-app, shutting off notifications that aren’t necessary such as those in games, social media apps, and other non-essentials. Removing temptation, after all, is the best way not to give in.
While you’re at it, place only useful items upfront on the home screen; tuck social media, games, and other unnecessary apps in folders. Apps you haven’t used in a while should be deleted, period, and consider removing social media apps and only logging into them through browsers. Finally, set up a family charging area, away from beds, desks, and other places where kids and adults need to focus on other things.
You don’t have to rely on the built-in parental controls on phones to enforce the rules. While those should also be put into place, a third-party parental control app offers more features and will allow you to limit certain behaviors as needed. Be transparent about why it’s being put in place, and why it’s on the phone.
Check-In With Family Members Regularly
No resolution is “set it and forget it.” Accountability, discussion, and planning are going to be an ongoing feature, and kids need to learn to engage with potentially difficult parts of the internet. Talking with your kids about what they’re doing online, who they’re doing it with, and how they feel about it is a good way to both teach lessons about dealing with others and changing the rules as needed.
Screens don’t have to absorb every waking moment of your children’s time. To learn more about how to balance real life with the temptations of screens, try it for free!