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How to Balance Technology Use in Your Family Manage Your Devices; Don’t Let Them Manage You
Anxiety, concern, conflict — parents and teens agree that digital devices are a source of all three of these, according to a study from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The comprehensive study compared digital device usage in the United States and Japan and how they have an impact on family relationships in both countries. “The patterns of daily life have been forever altered by the ubiquity of digital devices,” says Willow Bay, co-author of the study and dean of USC Annenberg College. “Clearly, our always-on media environment is presenting challenges.” So why do we still have these devices on us at all times, and how can we use them more responsibly? USC Annenberg’s study demonstrates that technology isn’t going away any time soon, and learning how to manage its usage is critical. Here are some tips that both parents and teens can learn from. The study gave interesting insight into how we perceive our kids’ technology usage and how they perceive ours. It found that most parents think their teens are addicted to their mobile devices. Most parents also felt addicted themselves. Their teens are aware of this — 1 in 3 teens also believes their parents are addicted. Your kids learn from how you spend your time. As the parent, you are the No. 1 example your child has for any behavior. If they see you looking at your phone most of the time they’re with you, they’ll likely start to do the same. BE THE EXAMPLE
One way to set an example is to limit screen time. This could take the form of an after-school “technology free” hour. It’s time that your family spends together without phones, only interacting with each other. Sound hard? Set the timer. Ask your kids how their days were. Try cooking together. If you feel that you really are addicted and can’t quit your device on your own, set up firewalls for yourself. Turn on your “do not disturb” signal during the nights and mornings. If you really want to take a break from your device, take a full day away from it, then reflect on how you felt afterward. When you open up your phone, does your busy screen overwhelm you? Do you really need that MLB app that you last used two years ago? Start by deleting apps that you no longer use. Then organize your remaining apps into folders. You might also try the same process with contacts, music, photos, and anything taking up space. In his article, “Tips to Declutter Your Phone,” Ryan Reed includes the automation app he swears by, If This Then That. It can link all your apps and services to streamline your life. This is a question that’s kept many parents awake at night. When is the right age for an adolescent to have their own mobile device? There’s a lot to take in. Yes, it can offer some security; you’ll (theoretically) be able to reach your teen at any time, and they can reach out if they are in danger. But there are drawbacks. Phones cause distraction, which doesn’t pan out well for driving or sleep, not to mention homework. Talk with your teen to find out what’s right for them and your family — and not just via text. Keep the conversation going, and you’ll build a stronger relationship, whether you choose to give them a digital device or not. TRIM YOUR APPS WHEN IS THE RIGHT AGE?
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