It’s easy to lose track of time while scrolling through social media apps because they offer an endless stream of content. Many students, and parents, find themselves caught in the social media time warp. One way to reduce excessive screen time and encourage healthy online habits is taking a digital detox.
SmartSocial.com Founder Josh Ochs talked with two moms about the benefits of having your whole family go on a digital detox together.
How Parents Can Encourage and Enforce Healthy Screen Time
April Whiting is a mom of four boys. She had her family do a full digital detox after realizing everyone was spending too much time on their devices.
April talked with Josh on a recent Smart Social Podcast to share the apps she was using, how she got her whole family to commit to a digital detox, and the benefits that came from going digitally-free for six months.
Josh also sat down with Jill Simonian, TV Host & Entertainment Journalist turned Parenting Lifestyle Contributor, to talk about the negative impact screen time can have on students. If you are a parent looking for help keeping your children safe online, listen in as Jill shares some actionable strategies you can use in your household.
When does the habit of screen time addiction begin for kids?
It is so easy to get overwhelmed as a parent, especially since screen time addiction can start as soon as a child is introduced to a digital device. Yes, toddlers can become addicted.
Many parents give children a phone or tablet to appease them at a restaurant, in a store, or in the car. It’s an easy way to keep them quiet and entertained, but doing this each day can lead to screen time addiction.
You wouldn’t give your child a candy bar for breakfast every single morning just because they want it. Consider treating screen time in the same manner.
What are some alternatives to screen time on long family road trips?
Instead of only relying on screen time on road trips, go old school. Have conversations with your children. Crank up their favorite music. Make up games for them to play (e.g. count how many trees we pass, find each letter of the alphabet on signs and license plates). However you decide to pass the time on a road trip, resist the urge to rely on devices. Check out our list of 100+ Offline Activities for some inspiration.
The 4 C’s of Social Media
Social media has two sides- good and bad.
There is the good side: connecting and communicating with friends, family members, and other creative people like you.
Then there is the bad side. Social media has an endless stream of content and can consume all of your student’s time. The more time they spend on social media, the more likely they are to compare themselves with other people.
As parents, it’s important to help your students use social media responsibly and with the right intentions.
How can parents limit screen time?
- Use the same apps your students are on to learn what kind of content is consuming their time
- Set limits, not only for your kids, but also for yourself. Decide when everyone can use their devices each day and for how long
How can parents monitor their student while respecting their privacy?
Parents should respect their child’s privacy. However, giving your child access to a device and not monitoring their activity is the equivalent of dropping them off in the most dangerous part of town without anything to protect them and saying, “good luck.”
Some parents don’t understand that giving a student a cellphone is the gateway to a lot of dangers, including screen time addiction, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and more.
Parents should always be on the apps their children use. Know your student’s passwords and keep track of what apps they’re downloading. Use Smart Social’s Popular Teen App Guide to help you decide which apps are age appropriate.
It’s also important for parents to be aware of the age restrictions of popular apps, like YouTube and Instagram (which don’t allow users under the age of 13 create an account). Apps set age guidelines for a reason. Teach your children to be intentional when they’re online and on social media, and set guidelines for which apps are appropriate to use and which are not.
How can parents encourage their family to take a digital detox?
Try taking a social media break on the weekends. If going the whole weekend without social media seems too difficult, try going offline for one day, then build up from there.
Prior to your social media break, announce that you will be going offline and specify the length of time you will be offline. During your digital detox, delete social media apps from your phone and don’t check your email inbox.
At first it might feel like you’re missing out on something. It will get easier and might even become mentally freeing. Once you’ve finished your digital detox, add the apps back to your device.
- Put social media apps on the last page so they’re harder to access
- Turn off notifications so you’re not prompted to constantly open the app. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to respond to every notification right away
- Utilize built-in screen time tools, like Apple’s Screen Time, to track how much time each family members is spending on apps each day
Your students might not understand why they need a digital detox, but you’ll be surprised by how thankful they are once they’ve gone without screens for a few days. Be patient with them and communicate often. Your whole family will benefit from the experience.