Editor’s Note: The California Partners Project conducted a statewide listening tour with California mothers, parents, and caregivers to understand how they navigated the integration of technology and devices into most aspects of their children’s lives. These evolving toolkits and best practices are meant to meet parents where they are. Digital Device Role Model is the fourth toolkit.
Today’s parents did not grow up with screens and didn’t have a blueprint to guide them. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of parents of children aged 18 and younger believe it is harder to parent today than it was 20 years ago. Many of those surveyed believe that aspects of digital technology, including social media, are why. A survey by the Digital Wellness Lab showed that parents report more frequent arguments with their children over media use since the pandemic began.
Tips to be a digital device role model
Tip 1: Institute windows of time when the entire family is offline.
According to an interview with Julia Storm, founder of ReConnect, “if your tween or teen wants to access something online, no amount of parental controls will stop them. Ultimately our job as parents is to protect, mentor and guide. Talking to our kids about the reasons behind our rules shows that we are being thoughtful in our decision making.”
Tip 2: Remove social media apps from your phone and turn off notifications
If you constantly check social media, consider removing the apps from your phone. Also, turn off unnecessary notifications which cause you to check your phone more often.
Tip 3: Keep devices out of the bedroom and keep dinners device-free.
Digital devices in the bedroom can lead to insomnia, disrupt restorative sleep, and shorten sleep duration. If you use the phone as an alarm, consider an inexpensive alarm clock instead; keep a family charging station outside bedrooms. Prohibiting devices at the dinner table will enhance the opportunities for conversation and connection. (See Be a Role Model and Device-Free Dinner at Common Sense Media)
Tip 4: Be mindful about what you post to social media.
If you are concerned about the content your children and their friends post online, consider how your posts influence what they believe is appropriate. (See Parents & screen time: role-modeling)
As California mothers, we are bringing these toolkits to you through a cross-collaborative campaign. San Francisco Bay Area Moms is proud to be working with Ventura County Mom Collective and Inland Empire Mom Collective. We, too, want to “ensure our state’s media and technology industries are a force for good in child development” (part of California Partners Project Mission Statement). #TechTips4CaliMoms