To resist technoference taking over your family life, we recommend the following:
1. Read The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair, and check out www.timewellspent.io.
2. Keep playing together. Occasionally tech may be the shared focus, but more often, go old school. Play outside. Bust out the play dough, puzzles and sand. Colour together. Curl up together with a book.
3. During their first 1000 days, children are best kept away from screens. Full stop. They need warm, loving relationships and real-life, tangible experiences, using all of their senses. This is what grows brains.
4. Keep your own phone in your purse or on the shelf, on silent as often as you can. Better yet, leave your phone in the car after work. Go get it once the kids are in bed.
5. Employ old-fashioned devices (alarm clocks, egg timers, CD players) to resist screen allure.
6. Out in public: if you take a photo, you don’t have to look at it immediately. The kids can wait too. This will keep you in the moment - the moment that was so beautiful you wanted to capture it in the first place.
7. If you do need to interact with a screen/take a call, say “excuse me …” to the person you’re with. Yes, this means babies as well.
8. Have the bare minimum of notifications switched on on your phone. Dings and pings - why? Honestly, why? What are you avoiding when you succumb to those tantalising distractions?
9. Have your tech rituals and have your family rituals, but DO NOT MIX the two. Pour a glass of wine after the kids are in bed and bathe in your Facebook feed. Enjoy! Indulge! But wait for it!
10. Create a family Code of Conduct that all must abide by. This will be different depending upon the ages of your kids, but it might include such things as:
🍃 We turn off WiFi at set times
🍃 We only use one screen at a time (ie no playing on the iPad while television is switched on)
🍃 We don’t use cellphones in the bedroom/at the dining table
🍃 We have joined the ‘breakfast before browsing’ movement (no screens in early morning)
🍃 We install protective software on ALL devices
🍃 We turn off ‘autoplay’ on youtube, and just watch one clip at a time
🍃 We consult parents before downloading ANYTHING
🍃 We don’t post anything online we wouldn’t want Nana to see
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Miriam McCaleb has been a kindergarten teacher and a university lecturer, and is a certified trainer for PITC. She parents, gardens and writes at home in North Canterbury.