How often are you told that technology is ruining our lives, our children’s brains and will ultimately control us in the future? For me, I see those messages on a daily basis. But I love technology! And I believe that we can walk the fine line of engaging with our devices in a safe and productive manner. Here are some guidelines for walking that line.
1) Monitor your usage
Believe it or not, there are some great apps out there to help you monitor your technology usage. Moment is an app that tracks your total usage time, lets you set limits and reminders – as well as designated screen-free times. There is a significant amount of research, especially on children, on the impact on extended screen-time on overall health. Reducing your time on your devices can improve your sleep, your weight and even your emotional capacity. This doesn’t mean you need to ditch screens all together; just be more aware of your time spent using these devices.
2) Monitor your attention
There are times where using your technology is just inappropriate and dangerous. Driving, for instance, is a scary time to be looking at your phone, tablet or navigation device. My favorite way to monitor my attention while driving is an app called Focus. It runs in the background of your smart phone and reminds (read: yells) you to put down your phone and focus on the road. You can also use non-technology forms of reminders like sticky notes hung strategically around your home or office to keep your attention focused. Lastly, you can check in with those around you and see if you’re technology use is impacting others.
3) Set aside regular technology-free time
Remember that app we mentioned for monitoring your screen time? Well, Moment also allows you to set technology-free times each day. The app will provide you with reminders that you shouldn’t be on your device. I use this each night before bed. It’s incredibly refreshing! You can also set family rules for no screens during snack/meal times, or no television on week nights.
4) Check in regularly and adjust usage as needed
Have you been feeling drained lately? Extra cranky or tired? This might be a good opportunity to check in with your technology usage. If your sleep is lacking or your food choices are off track, it might be a result of excessive screen time. It is also a great reminder to adjust usage for young children. The USDA has set some specific guidelines for children, especially those younger than teen age.
Technology doesn’t need to be all or nothing. You (and your family) have the opportunity to take the good parts of technology and leave the rest behind. Be in control of your devices. Don’t let them control you!