Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

Guest Post: Tech for Kids and Healthy Downtime

It is safe to say that right now we are all using technology a lot more than we used to. This is not just because we are bored and don’t have a lot of options. Using tech is how we are all functioning, socially and economically.

We connect with others for schooling, work, socialization, and basically every activity we can think of all through the internet and technology, and that’s not a bad thing. There are so many more options and resources now than what we used to have even 5 years ago.

It’s great to have these options and the tech, but it can also be overwhelming for parents as well as kids. As a trainer for Digital Respons-Ability, I go into classrooms around the state and talk about digital citizenship. One of the lessons I teach is about how to have healthy downtime. This isn’t because I think tech or screen time is bad, but because there needs to be a balance in all things.

When I begin this class, I usually start by letting the kids tell me what kind of things they like to do. If they are focused on only playing video games, we talk about how variety is important. One comparison I use is that at school they don’t just sit at their desks all day. There are different activities, lunch, recess, and so forth that break up the day for them.

If you want to implement more healthy downtime ideas or healthy ways to interact with tech in your family, the first thing you need to do is make a plan together with your kids.

Ideas for Creating Healthy Downtime Plans:

  1. Make a list of activities that don’t involve screens. For some ideas, click here.
  2. Create a schedule for certain activities or types of activities. This doesn’t have to be just for quarantine. It can also be for weekends, breaks, and vacations. Remember that tech is ok, tech is not the enemy. But it’s also okay to choose something else.
  3. Discuss how to be meaningful with tech use and choices. We all have the right to say no or walk away from something that isn’t interesting or makes you uncomfortable.
  4. Institute periods of no screen time and/or create protocols for different types of screen time, such as different time limits for fun screen time, educational things, communicating with friends and family, etc.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s limits and plan will be different, and that is wonderful. Remember that tech isn’t evil and we all use it every day. The best way we can help our kids and other family members make smart choices about tech is to empower and help them learn how to make meaningful choices now, while we can be there to help and guide them.

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