How do you balance technology when like me your motto is:
I <3 Technology.
I heart Technology.
I love Technology.
Once my first computer, an Atari 520STF found its way into my bedroom, I started logging screen time in long stretches. Living on my own as a teen was the single biggest factor for my finishing epic video games like Doom, Duke Nukem and Dune in record times. And that’s only for the D’s. Had I spent these hours walking instead, I probably could have made my way around the globe three times over.
Nowadays, I can remain connected in a constant flux of information with a very common triad: my smartphone, my tablet and my laptop. Were I a teenager left to my own devices today, my passion for technology would probably turn me into a digital Gollum.
Digital Citizens Need Rules to Balance Technology
My experience in the classroom and as a parent points to a very obvious fact: being digital natives does not make our children digital citizens. Our children and students need guidance with technology before they can claim an independence of their own. I believe the helm the need to navigate their digital waves is balance.
Aiming for balance with technology at home will be different for every family. I am hoping that the following tips gathered from my research will help you engage in conversations about the use of technology in your house.
Rule #1 – Schedule Off Time [icon name=”clock-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
According to research, the worst thing you can do when you first wake up is to check your email. Doing so may meddle with the priorities you should instead set for yourself. You may want to review some other rules of email etiquette we highlighted before. At the other end of the clock, you do not want to spend the last waking hours of your day staring at a screen. The blue light which emanates from screen suppresses melatonin which you so need to fall asleep.
Setting up a regular schedule during which you can fully disconnect will establish a routine that is easier to stick to. These are not doctor’s orders but my personal recommendation is to power down an hour before bedtime and boot up at least half an hour after you wake up. This lifestyle hack will vastly improve your sleep quality, focus and clarity.
Rule #2 – Establish Tech Free Zone [icon name=”life-ring” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
I can think of at least two areas in my house where technology is a complete hindrance to all social interactions: the dinner table and the bedroom. Establishing tech free zones with clear boundaries is extremely helpful for the entire family to maintain an open forum for discussions.
Rule #3 – Be a Role Model [icon name=”anchor” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]
Balance starts at home, balance starts with you. Your children and your students will not do what you tell them to do, they will follow what you do. The first two rules will not work until you set the example.
- If you spend your time on your phone, your child will too.
- If you eat dinner while looking at your phone, your child will too.
- If you do not make time to have meaningful conversations with your kids, they will stop talking to you.
My wife Jess has a very simple rule of thumb for whether or not we should be on our phone in various social settings: “Would you be appropriate to do a crossword puzzle right now?”
The Ultimate Balancing Act
I cannot pretend that these three rules to balance technology come any easy to me. When I am on the road for conferences, I tend to find myself in the middle of tech binges. But for the health of my family, I try to keep us all on track because I know how important balance will be for our two sons.
- TIP OF THE WEEK - [icon name="fa-cc"] STANDARD 4: promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility