We’ve all done it. In the course of running late, and gathering up kids, their stuff, and our keys, we’ve driven off and 10 minutes later have realized we’ve left our phone at home. The sinking feeling can quickly turn into panic, because our smart phones now practically contain our entire lives, all bundled up into handheld technology that we use not only for communicating, but also for shopping, directions, music, news, banking, and social connection.
Several years ago, I remember thinking my teens were so dramatic when they’d temporarily lose their phone, and now I get it. At times, we parents are just as bad when it comes to ignoring the humans that are right in front of us, for the chance to be looking down and reading something on our phone.
This is why it’s more important than ever to take the time to sit down with your family and discuss the uses and misuses of technology and develop some healthy family technology habits. Of course, there are many benefits to using smart phones, and I’d venture to guess that not very many of us would be willing to give them up for good, but we also know how easy it is for them to take the place of real face to face conversations and connection.
For a number of reasons, including both the physical and mental well-being of our children, most parents now have begun to set restrictions on how long their kids can be on their phones each day, and many carve out large chunks or even an entire day each week as designated phone-free time.
Amy Carney, local Arizona writer and mom of five, offers some great suggestions surrounding technology limits in her book, Parent on Purpose. In her home, not only are family meals sacred time, digital devices and televisions are kept out of bedrooms, ensuring that her kids get optimal sleep time.
In addition, Carney and her husband created a Family Media Contract that each of their children had to sign before owning their first smartphone. This is a helpful tool that any family can create to keep all members on the same page of expectations and aware of any misuse consequences.
If you’re interested in learning more about many issues surrounding teens and tech use, Amy Carney will be hosting an event in Scottsdale this fall.
There will be a showing of the Screenagers documentary on September 22nd. This is an award-winning film that probes into the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games and academics. The film offers solutions on how we as parents can help our kids navigate the digital world.
This event is intended for parents and their tweens and teens and will be held at Chaparral Christian Church in Scottsdale. There will be Q and A sessions after thefilm. For more information and for ticket prices, please go to: