Family Tech Tips

by Kyle Kick
BStrong Together Executive Director

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to examine technology and media use in your home.  Here are some tips for creating healthy media habits in your family.

Create a family media plan.  As a family, examine your media usage and work together to develop a plan that creates a healthy balance between life online and off-line. Create firm but reasonable rules that all members of the family agree to follow.  Use the American Academy of Pediatrics Media Time Calculator and create a personalized family media plan at HealthyChildren.org.

Create media-free zones.  Create spaces in your home such as bedrooms and the dinner table that are device-free.  Outdoor spaces like the yard and the park make great screen-free zones, too.  Use screens sparingly with and around children 2 and under to support the healthy rapid brain growth that is taking place during these early years.

Join the #DeviceFreeDinner movement.  According to Common Sense Media, 92% of parents feel that connecting with their kids over quality dinner conversation is very important, but many feel that devices are damaging this critical family time.  Establish device-free dinner in your home.  Get conversation starters, dinner game ideas, and take the #DeviceFreeDinner Challenge at The Family Dinner Project. 

Take an active role.  Participate in your child’s media use.  Help them to find material that is educational and reinforces your family values.  Play games with them, learn about social media platforms they are on, view content with them and use it as an opportunity to talk about lessons learned. Be sure to discuss the importance of digital citizen including cyberbullying and the sharing of inappropriate content.

Help kids to mindfully add contacts.  If your child has a phone or tablet, brainstorm with them age-appropriate ways to mindfully add and manage their contacts.  For advice about how to know if your child is ready for their first cell phone and how to support them to successfully navigate their digital connections, visit Raising Digital Natives.

Turn off screens at least 2 hours before bedtime.  The blue light emitted from electronic devices including televisions, tablets, computers, and phones inhibits the brain’s production of the sleep-related hormone melatonin.  Turning off screens in plenty of time before bed allows for critical melatonin production and brain quieting that is necessary to fall and stay asleep.

Set a good example.  In today’s over-connected world, many adults struggle with creating space and time that is media-free.  In her book, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, Dr. Devorah Heitner stresses the importance of adult modeling and shifting the focus from being our kids’ media monitor to their media mentor.  Be sure to attend our speaker event and community conversation with Dr. Heitner coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 30th at 7:00pm at Barrington Middle School - Priairie Campus.  For more information or to register, click here.

For more tech tips and opportunities to learn more about technology use in your family, join us for our @Home in the Digital Age Event Series hosted by BStrong Together and in partnership with AMITA Behavioral Health and Barrington 220 School District.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

@HOME IN THE DIGITAL AGE EVENT SERIES

FREE FILM SCREENING FOLLOWED BY FACILITATED DISCUSSION
** Appropriate for adults of kids all ages and kids 10 and older **

To learn more about kids and tech, join BStrong Together and AMITA Behavioral Health for our first event in the @Home in the Digital Age Series - a FREE public screening of “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age” and panel discussion at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 9th at Barrington Middle School – Prairie Campus. Parents are encouraged to come with their students age 10 and older.

For more information or to register to attend, click here.

Join us for the second event in the @Home in the Digital Age when BStrong Together partners with Barrington 220 School District for a 2-part event on Tuesday, October 30th at Barrington Middle School Prairie Campus.  Our evening will begin at 6:00 with an Apps Showcase open house when students will demonstrate apps 

6:00 - 7:00 pm App Showcase - Student demonstrators will teach parents, educators, and community members about apps commonly used by our children and youth.

7:00 - 8:30 pm Guest Speaker and Discussion - Dr. Devoah Heitner - Raising Digital Natives founder and author of "Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World." - will speak followed by a community conversation about how parents, educators and community member can support our students by becoming digital mentors instead of digital monitors.

To learn more about the event and to register to attend, click here.

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