Decide when and how to use devices

The following guide can help your family have more thoughtful conversations about technology and identify moments to disconnect and prioritize quality time together.

Discussion points

  1. Does technology ever prevent you from being present?

    To begin, talk about how devices can sometimes cause people to miss out on things that matter to them. Touch on times when you weren’t fully “there” for a particular moment because you were on your phone, and ask your kids if they’ve observed others (like friends or family) not being fully present with the people around them.

    Have your kids also experienced a time when they were distracted from an important moment because of technology? How did they feel about it afterward? Were they on a particular app or game when it happened, and have they noticed a pattern in their own activity?

  2. Find times and places to focus.

    What are the times and places your family feels it's important to be focused? Is it during homework? While spending time with one another? Talk about how to approach technology during these times when you want to keep your attention on a task.

    Reflect on what balance feels like, not only for your kids, but for the whole family. Then look to apply that concept to the times and places throughout their day.

  3. Reflect on ways to move forward.

    Based on what you’ve discussed so far, what changes would create more balance for your family? Are any current boundaries working or not working? Are there moments in the day—like meal times—when the family would like to unplug altogether?

Things to keep in mind

Work together.

Involve your kids to help them feel a part of the decision-making process.

Reflect on your use.

Understanding your habits is the first step to making changes that can model positive behaviors.

Give them the tools.

Focus on helping your kids self-regulate so they learn how to make good decisions on their own.

Kids don’t have the big-picture perspective that parents have, so we need to help them cultivate their own sense of self-regulation.

Jason Brand, LCSW

Try it at home

Family-time box

Along with your kids, pick a room and times you’ve all decided are going to be “device free”. Then create a device storage box and have some fun decorating it! As you’re making the box, talk about where it will go, when it will be used, and why.

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