10 Ways for Families to Talk About Technology
Janell Burley Hofmann, July 15, 2014
Building a healthy relationship with technology has become a critical piece of raising the modern family. The family-tech dynamic is taking center stage in wellness discussions alongside healthy eating, fitness, mindfulness and whole living. Technology has become a permanent part of our lives and we should welcome the positive impact it has on our world, personally and professionally. But as we learn to navigate it ourselves and then as parents, we are reminded of the dire need for strategies that promote balance.
As we begin to define balance in our homes, we must first have a foundation of communication. With our partners, caregivers, and children, we must always rely heavily on discussion. It is in these conversations that we teach and understand our family values and intentions, perspectives, overcome obstacles and conflict, and grow as a family. Technology gives us plenty to talk about. So we can always start building tech balance by getting curious.
Below are ten questions and methods that will help lay a foundation for healthy tech living.
- Know your family! Think about each child individually as a student, friend, and family citizen. What’s their temperament and tendencies? Knowing our children help nurture healthy tech habits.
- Take a tech inventory. Ask your child what accounts they have. What’s their favorite way to use the technology? What could they live without? This builds understanding. Share your favorite tech too!
- Allowing a new device, game or social network account for your child? Take the slow road. Talk about it first. Questions like “Why do you want it? How will you use it?” helps get perspective and set expectations.
- Think about your family’s beliefs and systems away from the technology. If they’re working for you, apply those same values to the technology. If their not so defined, rethink and rebuild! Know what is important to you.
- What isn’t working? Is the technology invading sleep or family time? Sit down to talk about it. Listen to all points of view and then reset boundaries so that technology doesn’t invade and annoy.
- Practice what you preach! Assess your own tech habits and model what you’d like to see from your children and teens.
- Go tech free! Head to the beach, the woods, for a walk around the block, or a ride in the car without technology. Encourage the whole family to leave devices behind sometimes.
- Designate “No Phone Zones” or device free areas of the house or times of day. Meal time, bedtime, or family time is a great place to unplug. Introduce a chair or area of the house that is free from technology. Have the entire family participate in establishing these sacred spaces and times.
- Try “tell me about it” instead of “show me”. Resist the urge to search or show everything online when there is an opportunity for an in person conversation.
- Build a bridge! How can technology strengthen the parent child relationship? Think about your shared interests — music, art, comedy, books, movies, sports — and allow the technology to be a positive piece of that connection.