What guidelines around personal device usage would you recommend to middle schoolers right now?
In these different and difficult times we know screen time use will be up. It is totally normal to have devices feel like a lifeline for our middle schoolers right now whether it’s social, entertainment, educational or creative use of tech. So, it’s really important for families to face that reality with acceptance. Once there is acceptance, we can start to educate, communicate and set some working boundaries - or iRules - to keep our families tech healthy. Whenever I’m thinking about iRules - pandemic or no pandemic - I want them to be functional, clear and rooted in our family’s particular system. Every family’s needs and every child’s tech tendencies are different, so designing a program that works for you is critical. Some foundational places to start for parents and caregivers of middle schoolers are:
A tech curfew or end of day for devices and screens.
Body breaks built into the day or opportunities to come away from the screen, get some air, exercise or just physically change position or scenery.
Device Free Dinners or meals so that there is a point of connection and consistency for our tweens and teens each day.
It’s also important for families to be talking about tech like they would talk about any other aspect of a child’s life, growth & development. The more we ask and engage with their life online, the healthier than connection and experiences become. Remember - relationship comes before rules for the best outcome.