With technology permeating every corner of your life, how can you as a parent develop intentionality, put your phone down, and engage with your kids? If you’re like most parents, you’re busy and constantly staying connected. Whether you’re using social media to stay in touch with family or using your laptop to keep on track with work tasks, it’s estimated that the average adult spends as much as 12 hours a day in front of TVs and computers, and an estimated 3 hours and 15 minutes a day on their phone. To say we’re addicted is an understatement. So how do we cut back and re-shape our digital habits?
Log screen time.
Awareness is a powerful tool. Knowing just how much time you spend on your phone will not only make you more aware but help you determine if you need to cut back.
To do this, you can log screen time with pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or a time tracking app like StayFree Screen Time Tracker. Choose a method that works for you and try tracking your screentime for 2 weeks. Then, analyze your screen time log and brainstorm some ways to cut back on the apps you spend the most time on.
Turn your phone on vibrate or silent when you want to spend quality time with your kids.
The more noise your phone makes, the more tempted you are to check it. So if you’re playing with the kids, doing virtual learning, or need to focus, try putting your phone on vibrate. Initially, you may experience panic that maybe you’re missing important notifications. But eventually, that feeling will go away as you realize that you can hear the vibrate just as well as a notification “ping.” A small buzz is less intrusive than a loud notification tone. So you may find putting your phone on vibrate helps you delay checking it and stay more engaged with your children.
Lighten your phone’s workload.
Just because phones can do everything doesn’t mean they should. If you rely on your phone for email, social media, texting, calling, web browsing, games, podcasts, and music, you’ll never be able to put your phone down!
Bottom line: your phone doesn’t need to do everything. To prevent overloading, try limiting how many things you use your phone for. Delete apps that drain your time and attention and try to shift some things like email to your laptop, since that requires more intentional use.
Limit notifications & don’t make your phone work so hard.
Do you really need to know every single time someone comments or likes one of your photos on Instagram? How many times does your phone light up with a notification each day? Each of those instances could lead to wasting precious minutes of time, and perhaps distract you from the time you’re spending trying to connect with your kids.