2020 was maybe the year we’ve been most grateful to technology. It’s really become a lifeline, connecting us to family and friends near and far, allowing us to share worries and concerns throughout this past year but also moments of happiness and hope.
Schools were closed for a good part of the year, and we were forced to rely on home computers for lessons and educating our children. For those of us with no prior homeschooling experience, it was no easy feat.
Many jobs became online almost overnight and we had to quickly adapt our routine, learning to manage work tasks outside the office, while teaching and entertaining the kids and juggling the household.
Use tech for good
So many dramatic changes in such a short period of time inevitably led to a major surge in screen use. In fact, it’s safe to say we’ve seen firsthand just how important it is to establish and maintain boundaries with the screens in our lives now more than ever. Even though it’s the holiday period, we’re spending more time at home, and the kids might even have new tech as presents, let’s be mindful and try to make a conscious effort to curb excessive screen time. If you’re struggling, Qustodio makes it easy with handy screen time schedules and helpful daily limits that you can set at the touch of a button!
It’s good to talk
It’s always nice to catch up with loved ones and show them we care but Current COVID-19 social distancing rules are really throwing a spanner in the works. Fortunately, tech offers us many alternatives including Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp… so schedule a few calls this week. Let’s celebrate the positive side of tech by helping the kids organize a Skype session with their grandparents, a Zoom call with their favorite aunt and uncle, or FaceTime with cousins or classmates. Talking and interacting with others will help keep spirits high and allow you to share the holiday vibe with those who matter most.
Be picky about your screen time
Time is a precious commodity. How often do we complain about not having enough time to even think, yet once we’ve finished (or given up on!) the seemingly endless To Do list, we find ourselves in front of the TV watching any old thing just to disconnect for a bit? Instead of spending the evenings sprawled in front of the TV in a zombie-like state (they don’t call it the ‘idiot box’ for nothing!), why not choose one night of the week to be movie night? Choose a Xmas classic, a family-friendly option from Netflix, or even check the TV guide to see what catches your eye. Remember: opt for quality over quantity every time! Cozy blanket and popcorn optional.
Protect your online devices to encourage safe use
It’s a full-time job supervising our children and it certainly got more difficult with them being home all day during lockdown instead of at school. Whether your child already had their own device(s), you had to improvise and share your own with them, or maybe school loaned out a tablet, make sure to install Qustodio parental control protection on any devices they use. Knowing your child is protected while studying, playing or surfing the internet means one less thing for you to worry about. Don’t forget to protect any surprise techie gifts you already wrapped up and left under the tree!
Substitute worrisome apps with educational ones
Kids are fascinated by tech and would happily spend hours (if not days) scrolling, clicking and liking. Why not try to reach a compromise with them? Allow them a set amount of time each week to play, explore and learn! That’s right, even though we tend to focus on the negatives (addictive, violent or explicit apps, inappropriate content, stranger danger...) there are plenty of good, wholesome apps out there that can help children with their studies or even spark their interest in new topics. Some apps can even enhance learning and foster problem-solving skills. Take a look on the App Store or Google Play to see what’s available. Make sure to check the official age recommendations before installing anything that will be used by your child.
Update your routine
Technology is great and can enrich our lives in so many areas but that doesn’t mean we need to be plugged in 24/7. Remember it’s you who decides when screens are used and for how long. It’s well-documented that technology can reduce sleep quality, so don’t let those pesky devices interrupt your downtime. Aim to set aside quality time each day to disconnect and relax. The best time for this is an hour or two before bed. Agree with the kids on a time to switch off and store all devices until the next day. Put on your pyjamas and snuggle up with a book and some hot chocolate or warm milk. It might take a few nights to get everyone on board but once you do, you’ll all sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead.
Be digitally responsible
So now that you’ve taken back control and started to restore the screen time chaos at home, why not make it official? We’ve created a digital agreement to keep you and your child on the right track this coming year. Sit down for an informal chat about your screen use and fill it in together. Lastly, sign it and stick it on the fridge as a pledge to keep healthy digital habits in 2021. What better new year’s resolution than a family one you can all keep together!