This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Being a parent in this age of readily available technology can often be interesting journey to navigate in. It is not the same as it was for most of us growing up with very little technology available to us. My children have personal tablets, old cell phones, gaming systems, YouTube and social media available to them and they LOVE using them!
So how do I as a mother of six children, create a balance where I feel comfortable with my children’s relationships with technology?
I use the following simple and easy steps to help not just my children, but our entire family create a healthy relationship with the digital world at our fingertips:
- Set times for active play & engagement
The very first thing I focus on is making sure I schedule in and encourage active play with my family. Instead of negatively saying to them, “Get outside you have been online all day.” I make a priority to plan fun activities outdoors everyday. While we can’t always be outdoors with fresh air, I keep family games and small projects that are fun and engaging to create engagement with the whole family.
We also have a “No screens at the table rule.” Meaning we don’t bring any device to the table for meals together.
- Set screen times.
We regularly evaluate how much time we are spending on our devices as a family. My husband and I are okay with regularly adjusting the times allowed on the internet based on what is going on in our lives or the seasons we are in. Summer schedules look different than screen times during the school year. Adjust as necessary.
TIP: Use app timers to manage the time you or your children to keep from forgetting how long you have been online or in an app.
- Create a “Bedtime” for devices.
This is a creative idea I learned from the Family Guide for Children from wellbeing.google resource site. Every child, no matter the age, understands what bedtime means. This has helped us so much with turning off screens at night. We declare bedtime for all screens and everyone helps clean up, turn off and recharge their devices so they are ready to play again tomorrow.
- Play with your kids both on and off the screen
I have never been really great at online games. They move too fast for me. But I have discovered that my children don’t care if I am good at the game or not. They love it when I sit with them and they can “teach” me the game they are playing or watch a video that they love with them. Spending time together can and should happen both on and off the screen.
- Create an open dialog with them about what they are learning online, games they are loving, and new things they want to do.
Hearing non-stop about a game and the new skins, or scores, or levels achieved by your child may not be the most riveting conversation to participate in. And I will say, sometimes I go a little cross-eyed hearing all kinds of details that just aren’t important to me. But what is important to me is that my child knows they can tell me about anything and everything they learn and experience online. I never want them to feel like I would not want to know or don’t care about what they are doing. I will randomly sit next to them and ask them to just bubble over with all the things they love about what they are watching or playing. It can be quite fantastically hysterical to hear.
- Use tools available to parents to make your entire families digital wellbeing balanced.
Google has created so many tools for families, parents, and individuals to use to create and model the tech behavior you want to see in your children. I love it when I find great resources that are free and available at my fingertips for my family. Google has done the work and the research to create apps, tools, videos, and even posters you can print to help your family create a healthy digital wellbeing. Take advantage of them at wellbeing.google!!!
Setting clear boundaries, using tools available from wellbeing.google and finding positive ways to model good behavior and engage with my children in technology has created a smoother home for us. We find less frustration from everyone when we know the rules, have a healthy balance between playing on and offline, and when mom & dad are playing with the kids in both on and offline play.
I am NOT good at most of the games my kids love to play, but they LOVE telling me what they are doing and showing me how to play and most of all, beating me at the game!
Being confident that I am using great tools, creating good boundaries, and modeling a healthy balance with the digital world is a boost to this momma’s heart and I know it will be for yours too.