7 technology rules for your household
Rebecca Sparrow is Suncorp’s #TeamGirls ambassador and a best-selling author, columnist, podcast host and passionate advocate for teenage girls. Rebecca regularly visits high schools to present to students, and has developed a range of resources to help girls navigate their way through their formative years.
There’s nothing wrong with smartphones and technology in the house, but they have the ability to quickly take over our lives and rob the people we love of our attention! Looking at messages, feeds, likes and comments eats into the precious and important time that we could be spending our family and friends.
7 ways to help build positive device use
The goal is to have a positive relationship with our devices and the way we do that is by setting up boundaries, here are 7 to get you started.
1. Set a device curfew
Teenagers need between eight 8 and ten 10 hours of sleep each night. The problem is that smartphones, iPads and tablets are all highly addictive and it’s easy to lay in ned bed scrolling for hours on end or replying to group messages.
It’s important to get devices OUT of the bedroom at night.
TIP: Set a rule that Charge all devices are charged in a central location like the kitchen or lounge room from 8pm onwards so that your tween or teen isn’t checking or sending messages into the early hours of the morning.
2. Get outside and active, device-free
Start doing weekly family activities where it’s physically impossible to hold a phone in your hand, like rock climbing, bike riding, tennis. Sports is a mental health break and helps to combat those bad physical habits we get from technology, such as hunching over at the a desk, staring at a screens. Whether it’s half an hour or half a day; get outside and get active together.
Check out the #TeamGirls Sports Guide for more ideas.
3. Create quiet zones
Create some device-free zones in your home (and car!).
Most people know not to have devices at the dinner table, but you can also create some no phone zones in other areas: the kitchen, a lounge room and even your car. Yes, your car! Your kids may protest but forcing them to make conversation, listen to the radio or sit in silence with their own thoughts in the car may be the mental health break they need.
4. Activate greyscale
Want a super-fast way to make your phone instantly less-attractive? Grey scale the screen. This subtle change makes your phone far less tempting to pick up. Your phone will seem less ‘shouty’ and attention-grabbing.
5. ‘Break up’ with your phone while you’re studying
Even when our phones are on silent or turned off – they still have a tendency to distract us. Just looking at our phones makes us wonder what conversations or interesting information we’re missing out on!
Study skills expert Dr Prue Salter says that trying to study with an iPhone in your bedroom (on your desk, for example) will take you 5 and half times longer. So when it comes time to hitting the books, leave your phone outside your bedroom where you can’t see it. You’ll be studying more effectively and get it done faster.
6. Make a plan together
You’ll find great examples of family internet agreements on the Federal Government’s ThinkUKnow website. But when you make a plan, do it together as a family. Make sure your kids also get a say. That might mean that as parents you can no longer post photos of your kids without asking their permission first! The rules need to go both ways. And when you think about it – that’s a perfectly reasonable request.
7. Set up a Google Alert
Depending on your tween or teen, it may be worthwhile setting up a Google Alert for their name. That way, anytime your child is mentioned online in a public space, you should get an alert with a link to where and how your child’s name is being used. This will let you keep across what’s happening in your child’s world while you build relationships and install rules around social media and devices.