4 rules for managing tech time

Tech Talk Tuesday #62: What are your main tech rules?

Families today are busy. Often everyone is running in different directions, and texting each other under the same roof is becoming the new normal. This disconnect in personal touch is troublesome.  

To keep our sanity, and our face-to-face conversations alive, my family follows four rules:

  1. Device-free dinners - this leads to engaging conversations, especially when we don’t have easy access to answering questions about topics that come up.
  2. No phones during homework or study time - my two teenagers have made it a habit to have their phones in the other room for chunks of time while they study. They both also work to not go on YouTube videos etc. on the computer during that time. Tessa spends about 30 minutes at a time studying and then takes about a 10-minute break on her phone. It is not without temptations, lapses (I can relate!) and I do stay involved by asking how things are going and by looking at her homework with her at times. I try to focus much more on the positives than the negatives—saying how great she has done when staying on task rather than complaining that it’s not long enough.
  3. Phone-free bedrooms at sleeping time—this is exactly what it sounds like. No phones, tablets, TV’s or computers in the bedroom when the lights go out.
  4. Leave your phone at home during family outings. You will get a lot of resistance to this one, but stand firm. The kids will concede. I have insisted on leaving the devices at home during family outings for quite some time. I have a goal for them to go a day without the phone, longer if we are camping. Not only does this promote a more intimate family bonding experience, I believe it decreases their, and our, compulsion to always check our devices. This helps when they are back in school and have the urge to check during a boring lecture.

For this Tech Talk Tuesday use these four rules as a conversation starter, then come up with a few rules of your own that will work for your family. Suggested talking points are:

  • Phones at the dinner table—yes or no?
  • Devices on the night stand—Yes, they are handy alarm clocks but do you think you will have a more restful sleep without a screen under your pillow?
  • Simpler study time—Some would argue having a phone nearby is necessary for retrieving quick information but try studying without it. It’s been proven that your focus and retention will improve without the glaring distraction.
  • Device-free family outings —This one will take a little while to get used to, but challenge each other to come up with phone-free outing ideas everyone will enjoy.