Back to school often means back to a routine. More structure, but also more chaos. More stress, less sunshine. More pressure, less longboarding on brand new pavement. More time with friends, less time with parents. And those darn phones.
We're going to challenge you to look at device use, this fall.
Put your phone away. Yes, you. The parent. Put it away when your kids get home from school. Or after dinner. We all know a phone is a wall, and when yours goes up, theirs will too. In so many ways! We know, we know. "But it's for work." If you can go to a movie, or for wine with friends, you can definitely wait on that email or text response while your kids are in the room.
Give your kids frivolous time on their devices after school. They've spent all day learning, and interacting with others. Many kids use games, books, SnapChat and TikTok to decompress. Give them space to do so! Ask them what they think is a fair time limit, and then agree together to honour that time.
Don't discount the power of a video game to help a kid manage anxiety.
Require devices to be put away after 9 pm. In middle school we see an increase in late night device use. Kids who are on their devices after 9 pm report to us more anxiety and stress around their friends, and their own, mental health. Your kid might feel like they're missing out, so setting up a way for them to "end the day" with their friends would be helpful to them. You can also model good behaviour by putting yours away, too.
Pair passion time with digital time. If you have a child who LOVES their device, make a list of other things they love to do, too. Create a 1 for 1 rule: one minute spent on a passion equals one minute of earned digital time. For example, if they love to bake, then 20 minutes spent baking earns them 20 minutes of digital time. You'll find they'll spend less time on their devices as they rediscover other things they enjoy.
We'd love to hear how one of these tips changed things in your home, this school year! Share with us on social, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.