Ahhhh. Can you feel it? Summer is so close. Everything feels a little more buoyant, a little brighter. We’re in the home stretch of social distancing, a sense of normalcy is returning, and there’s a collective energy that’s ready to throw the screen door open, run outside, and pounce on summer.
There’s no doubt you’ve established great digital ground rules that worked well during quarantine. However, as we begin the mental trek toward some degree of our former life, summer may be the perfect window to think about a digital reset.
A reset is simply taking a moment to pause, assess, and adjust where it makes sense. Consider what digital expectations and ground rules you established during the pandemic, what worked for your family, and what needs to be phased out before the new school year approaches.
Where we’ve been
We know that during quarantine (and even after), kids’ screen time doubled for several reasons, including learning from home, needing to connect with friends online more, and boredom. During the pandemic, we also knew that helping kids manage the ongoing stress of homebound life was crucial for helping them maintain digital, emotional, and physical health. All of these factors impacted our digital routines and expectations.
Where we’re going
Summer routines will look different for every family. Some students are attending school on site throughout the summer as many districts strive to bridge 2020 learning losses. Other students will enjoy a traditional summer break before starting back to school in a few months.
Whichever way your family’s summer routine rolls out, here are a few small shifts you can begin making today that will slowly help you re-establish smart digital habits.
5 ways to reset your digital habits
1. Pause, assess, adjust. Stop to evaluate the role technology has grown to occupy in your home over the past year. Assess your family’s screen time and device habits that shifted or grew. Where do you need to help your kids slowly pull back? How many hours a day do the kids play video games? How much TikTok or YouTube scrolling is going on? Are the TV binges out of control? Is there still a phone curfew in place, or have kids started taking their phones to bed?
2. Give parental controls a go. If you gave your kids a little more device freedom during the pandemic and put the idea of parental controls on hold, summer is a great time to give this option a go. Test monitoring features, content filters, and make adjustments that fit your family’s needs. If your goal for your kids is less device time and more outside time this summer, parental controls include screen limits to help you reset any poor habits that have set in.
3. Safety and Privacy revamp. During summer especially, take time to understand the friends your kids connect with online – new friend groups can form over the summer. Review privacy and location settings on apps. Teens often leave their location on for one another so they can find things to do. This practice isn’t always a good idea since location-based apps can open your family up to risks.
4. Screen-free zones. Another wise habit that may have gone by the wayside is creating screen-free zones such as the dinner table, the bedroom, restaurants, and family trips. Setting a tech curfew is also a great way to help kids get into consistent sleep patterns. These few steps can add hours of family time to your day and give kids a much-needed device break. If you are going on vacation, creating screen-free zones on your trip will ensure you are fully engaged and don’t miss out on the experience.
5. Get a plan. The summer has a way of flying by, especially if kids end up playing video games, watching YouTube videos, or chatting on social media all day. Get in front of that temptation with a plan. Collaborate on a wish list of things every family member would like to do over the summer. Maybe it’s canoeing, a trip somewhere fun, a family project, volunteering, or a new hobby that taps into their creativity.
As you ease back into new habits, remember to share your reasoning for the reset. Handing down digital edicts rarely sticks, but when kids understand the mental and physical benefits of balancing their technology, they will be more likely to get on board with the change.