Digital Wellness Tips for Families
As parents and educators, nurturing our children’s physical and mental health is a no-brainer. We understand what check-up appointments to schedule, how to nourish their bodies and what warning signs to look for, but how recently have you really paid attention to digital wellness?
Lead an intentional digital life
There are certain precious things in our family lives that should never happen by accident, like family dinner without texting or play dates without screens and lots of fresh air. There is certainly nothing wrong with a fun video game night or YouTube cat video marathon. But, when technology becomes the default entertainment and family interactions feel consistently stunted by ringing text messages or social media alerts, time together feels far less “together” than ever before.
By intentionally choosing how technology gets to play a role in your family life, you are taking control of the quality time you spend and teaching your children an important lesson: there is no more important person or conversation than what I see right here, right now. This might be as simple as implementing a ‘no phones at the dinner table’ rule or setting structured guidelines on what digital technology can be used, when, where, by whom, and for how long.
Or your family may adapt well to a ‘no technology until…’ rule, where you define all of the things that need to happen before any technology can be used in your home. For instance, you might need to have an in-person conversation, walk the dog, exercise or make the bed before any iPhones or televisions are turned on. Whatever that looks like in your family, the reminder to both you and your children that technology is secondary to in-person experiences is an important and beneficial one for your digital and overall wellness.
Refresh yourself on practical digital technology safety
As quickly as digital technology and social platforms evolve, it’s a great idea to check in with the tools, sites, and apps that your family uses to ensure that their security settings and usage are as safe and smart as possible. Some basic things to look for include:
- Content and profile access
- Do you have access to your children’s phone, email and social accounts?
- Are you connected to them on social media sites they have (with your permission) created an account on?
- Are they creating and sharing content that would pass the “grandma test”? That is, would the photos, videos, social messages and texts they send to friends be something they would be okay with grandma receiving, too?
- Security settings
- Are your passwords complex enough, do they vary from account to account, are you keeping them private?
- Are your privacy settings what they should be—and what does “private” mean exactly on the apps that you use?
- What are you sharing, perhaps unknowingly?
- Are there apps that might share your location? Are your settings set appropriately to not share out location information to strangers?
- Have you included phone number, address, or other identifying personal information in your profiles?
- Have you inadvertently posted personal content—like a photo of your house or license plate?
Paying attention to your family’s digital activities at large can go a long way to identifying behaviors and habits that may be detrimental to your collective digital wellness or might simply provide an opportunity for you to make decisions as a family on how to spend your time in connective and enjoyable ways.
About Katie Laird: Katie is a world-traveler, a pilot, and Tex-Mex aficionado. While she is not creating content for her clients or attending graduate school at night, Katie enjoys spending time with her two lovely children and supportive husband!