This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Every single one of my kids grandparents have made the same joke.
“He can work my smart phone better than I can!”
My kids have grown up so much differently than I did. A device of some sort has been within arms reach of them since they were born.
They don’t know a time where they haven’t had information at their fingertips, a camera available at all times or the ability to send a message to almost anyone at any time.
It can be overwhelming. We are navigating new territory wondering so many questions… Do I let them have a phone? Should I set a limit on how often they are online? How do I make sure our devices are used for good and not become just a distraction?
For so many of us in this predicament, we end up just deciding to place time restrictions on technology. When we aren’t sure what to do, we just turn it all off.
But instead of focusing solely on the time we spend on the device we started to look at it from a different angle.
We Focus on the concept of Digital Wellbeing
Our family has moved from the idea of “screen time” and how much and how often, to what does our overall digital wellbeing look like?
For us, it breaks down to this:
Daily Digital Habits
For starters, I wanted us to each take into account exactly what our online time looks like each day. In the Google Digital Wellbeing app, you can get a summary of exactly how much time you spent on your phone and on what.
So, you can do a check in at the end of every day, or every few days, and see if you were spending your time on apps and programs you think are worthwhile or not. This also greatly puts into perspective how many times you unlocked your phone in a day. It’s glaringly obvious if you have put too much time into your phone on a particular day.
Deciding our Family’s Focus
Secondly, we decide as a family on what things are good usage of time. For instance, reading is a huge priority for us, so reading and book apps of all sorts are encouraged. We don’t need to put a time limit on how many audio books you’ve listed to this week.
We also determine wha apps we consider to be more of a distraction. Those things are not taken away, but we want them to be the smallest “piece of the pie” on our Digital Wellbeing dashboard. If they aren’t, we talk about it, show the kids and let them work to fix it.
If we need to, Family Link will allow us to set limits on the specific app so it is turned off when their time is up.
My favorite feature is ‘take a break’ on YouTube. You can set for how long you will allow them to watch and when they’re time is up, a pop-up will appear to have you take a break!
Locking It Up
Even though we don’t usually put specific daily screen limits, we certainly have off times.
At our house, dinner time, game night, movie night, discussion time, etc are all times when you need to be completely screen free and focused on family.
If you need help, Family Link lets you remotely lock a device so everyone knows, time is up! Not only that, but it also lets you pause the Wi-Fi on individual devices.
They most important part of all of this? We do it as a family! We talk about our digital habits, create a plan together and we hear everyone’s thoughts and feelings. The Google Family Guide walks you through everything your family needs to navigate the digital world. Today, in the NY Times, a portion of it has been published, so go check it out.
To discover more tips and tools visit wellbeing.google to find a balance with technology that feels right for the whole family.
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.