Technology is ruining our kids… you may have read my post on this recently! I’ve been pretty worried about how technology is impacting our society and our homes so I’ve done a little research on good technology tips and resources for teaching our families.
You know how when you worry about something, or you’re focused on something specific, everything around you starts to relate to what you’re concentrating on? Like if you’re trying to pick out a paint color it seems that suddenly every hue of every wall you see is suddenly very interesting. If your teenager is looking for a job it seems that you’re suddenly keenly aware of “we’re hiring” possibilities everywhere you go. Maybe you’ve just read an interesting book, all of a sudden it seems that it’s brought up all around you…on a podcast, by a friend, etc.
Maybe that doesn’t happen to anyone else, but it sure does to me.
These days, I think a lot about technology and what it’s doing to my kids. And what it’s doing to me…
So everything seems to relate back to technology for some reason. I tend to blame a lot of things on technology lately, much to my daughters’ chagrin! Now, I know there are lots of positive things that come from technology. It’s glorious and wonderful in so many ways… it has so much power to change lives for the better.
But I do believe that there’s a part of it ruining our kids.
It’s mesmerizing a whole generation and their parents. I mentioned some interesting articles in my first technology post that talk about how the tech industry will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
HOW DO WE KEEP TECHNOLOGY FROM RUINING OUR KIDS?
Last month we went out to lunch with Max’s mission president and his wife. We talked about how missions have changed since they’ve lowered the age requirement to serve. Dave and I wondered about the maturity level, whether homesickness has gone up, etc. But they mentioned the toughest thing for these newer missionaries is a lack of self-esteem. Not only that, they were more worried about the sisters than the elders.
And since I’m in that “automatically blame things on technology” mode, it made me mad at social media. At least, that’s got to be part of the culprit, right? That and parent coddling. Which I know I’m guilty of, but that’s a post for another day.
In the middle of that conversation in Taiwan, my mind was swirling around my own four girls. We want them to be confident and strong and to “look up rather than looking from side to side” for their self-esteem. This lower self-esteem is something new to this generation.
Sure, there are women throughout history who have struggled with confidence and have looked to others for validation. A lot of that is human nature. But I believe much of it centers around the perceptions that social media creates… and how it makes us feel. How has social media and different perceptions of how “perfect” life is for others affected this new generation of young women out there? Has it affected my daughters? What about me as a mother for that matter? It’s not just the youth who are affected. Seeing so many things that are posed and flawless can sure do a number to make “regular” lives seem mundane and gray.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
A couple days after our discussion, which really didn’t have anything to do with technology, it was all about missionary work and Taiwan, I was wringing my hands to Dave about social media. He reminded me that I sound like a broken record. Worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere. We need to take some action.
So what do we *do* about technology?
Around this same time I was talking to my friend on the phone about some of the depression and anxiety that surrounds us these days. It hinders many of the people we love. We talked about the connection to social media. We decided to gather some friends and have a little “book club” about The Tech-Wise Family and get together to come up with some solid solutions for dealing with technology in social media in our homes.
Please don’t be sad if you’re local and didn’t know about it. We just invited people we had spoken with specifically about technology recently. The discussion was enlightening. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. Then we talked about the ages of our kids and what kinds of things we’re dealing with in the social media realm. We talked deeper about the things that stood out to us from that book. It was incredible. We learned so much from each other.
That is a group of powerful ladies right there. And also a lot of food…ha!
But there was something so empowering about the fact that we were all so on the same page. So many of the same concerns, some solutions, some new ideas, but mostly just power in numbers.
Tech-Wise Family Book Review
The Tech-Wise Family talks about being mindful of how we use tech in our homes. It goes deeper than internet filters and screen time limits for kids. As families we have to be smart and aware and sometimes we have to make hard decisions that go against what the world seems to be pushing on us.
The world is all about having everything at your fingertips. With our phones, google, streaming we have access to anything we want without hardly any effort. It’s all about instant gratification and we are losing some of our work ethic and discipline.
If anything, after reading this book, I have determined to make sure the boundaries we have set up remain in place. It is important to protect our homes and our families. Our use of technology should reflect who we want to be as a family. I highly recommend this book to help you ask yourself the deep questions, get more aware of how technology is working (or maybe not working) in your home.
TAKE THE TECHNOLOGY TIPS THAT WORK FOR YOU
Leave the rest…
Every family is different. Each person is different. And because of that there’s no “right answer.” I love that The Tech-Wise Family made me really think through some concrete ideas to help us balance out our use of technology. It made me think about what place technology has in my life and my kids’ lives?
For my girls who are so impressionable and in such a crucial stage of growing up — do I really want them to have a phone in their hand all the time? Knowing they’ll struggle with that inner battle raging inside, often making them feel inferior or left out. Or trying to figure out ways to make themselves look “cooler” and get more “likes,” — it happens whether we want to believe it or not. Do I want them to look up and see the world around around them and have more chances to look into the eyes of those they love?
They’re most likely not going to see the big picture from the midst of all that’s swirling around them. That is, unless we help them to shut the things that don’t matter off. Then give more room for those things that do. If you read this book, please come back and share your thoughts in the comments! I’d love for you to share your technology tips with me. Don’t forget to browse the comments and get some amazing technology tips from others.
TECHNOLOGY TIPS WE USE IN OUR HOME
We’ve been working really hard as a family to come up with tips that will help us balance out the use of technology in our home. Here are a few that have worked:
Make Sure Kids are Ready
Before exposing kids to new technology, make sure they have the knowledge they need to navigate it successfully. Don’t hand them a phone without having any discussions about expectations. I talk about the best time to give kids phones in my post about How Technology is Ruining Our Kids.
One of the biggest technology tips I have for you is to create a technology contract that establishes boundaries and expectations. This should be done with love and should help keep the lines of communication open.
Use Apps to Enforce Time Limits
We’ve been using “Our Pact” (an iPhone app) like it’s our best friend. I can turn off the girls’ apps from my phone whenever I want. We’ve decided for now to keep them turned off until all jobs, practicing, etc. are done for the day. So far, so good. Why in Heaven’s name should they be distracted by their phones before all the “real” things for the day are done?
Put People First
Whenever we, as a family, are around people we put our phones away. At dinner time, we put our phones away and we engage in conversations as a family. We put people first at home and we encourage them to put people first out in the real world. When they’re out in public, we ask them to turn their phones off at lunch, put it in their pocket when they’re in the car with friends, and talk to people whenever they can. This just takes talking about. And then talking and talking again.
Kids need reminders!
This putting people first is always taught very best by example. When we put OUR KIDS first. I love this quick parenting hack my dad taught me when I was young that I still do with my kids.
Social Media Breaks
If your kids have social media, take breaks. Because I worry about social media, I wanted to conduct an experiment and decided our family would take a week break from Instagram. There are several different social media venues out there, but we chose that one. I don’t do Facebook or Snapchat.
At the end of the week, we evaluated how we felt and guess what? We were all happier. There was so much gratitude for that week off. I personally was so much more concentrated on the things that matter most and it felt so good. Which is weird because I didn’t feel like scrolling through those images really took up much time. And they actually didn’t. I’m really careful how many people I follow and it’s not a lot. But the thing that made a difference was the focus. When I had a second between carpools or in line at the grocery store I looked around and used my brain instead getting glued to a screen. At home any spare seconds were spent with my girls and Dave, or thinking of them and what they needed. I was less distracted and I was happier.
Gradually Instagram has eased it’s way back into life for them, but for me I’ve decided to take it off my phone for now and just check it out once a week or so. I’m trying to find the balance because I do love to know what’s going on out there with the people I love that I don’t get so see as much as I want. Social media is such a way of life these days, finding the balance is tricky. But there’s something about working actively to find that balance rather than just wringing my hands in worry that feels good.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Provide opportunities to openly discuss how things are going and all kids to talk about their experiences and phone conversations so that they have autonomy to share and have ownership of their behavior.
MORE TIPS FOR TEENS
I love sharing tips that I feel will help on the journey of motherhood! Here are some of my favorite posts. I hope you’ll check them out.
- Building connections with teens and pre-teens is hard. Here are 10 tips for managing pre-teens.
- Money is another one of those concepts that I feel parents have a responsibility to teach their kids to be successful as an adult — Check out A Money System That Works for some ideas.
- We all want to have a bit more love in our home. Here are 10 Ideas to Foster Sibling Relationships.