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Where to Draw the Line: Boundaries, Technology and Your Family

Posted by on May 1, 2020 | Comments Off on Where to Draw the Line: Boundaries, Technology and Your Family

Where to Draw the Line: Boundaries, Technology and Your Family

Navigating device usage can feel like a never-ending argument. It can be hard to set boundaries and disconnect from devices now that both you and your kids are using technology more frequently.

Boundaries are limits that keep your kids safe and comfortable. They will be different for everyone because they come from personal experiences, values, and needs. Clear technological boundaries create expectations and cultivate digital responsibility and safety. So which ones should you consider? Here is Ophelia’s Place’s list:

  • Explore and Set Privacy Settings Together

It’s easy to be anxious about youth using the internet or social media. You may worry about every scary scenario. Use that anxiety as fuel. Familiarize yourself with privacy settings on the internet browser and social media your child uses. Most social media sites have settings to filter who can see your profile, who can comment, and who can send messages – those settings may just be hidden. Talk about how and what to keep private and what is okay to share online. Set privacy settings together and discuss why each one is important.

  • Take Regular Breaks, Especially Now

Long amounts of screen time impact mental and physical well-being. Especially now when the internet is saturated with stressful and uncertain information. So give yourself a break, literally. Set reminders for you and your kids to disconnect from screen time and commit to taking those breaks. Remember that youth may be hesitant to set their phone or laptop down because that is how they are socializing right now. It’s helpful to fill those breaks with an activity that doesn’t involve technology, like going for a walk or playing a board game.

  • Give Your Phone a Bedtime

You and your kids are likely going to bed only to stay awake scrolling. Not surprisingly, this interferes with getting enough sleep. Technology use in bed makes it hard to disconnect from stressful news articles or ongoing online drama. Instead, keep devices out of the bedroom. At a set time, place devices in a common area such as the kitchen or living room. Keep them there overnight. This helps hold you and your youth accountable for disconnecting and resting.

  • Get it in Writing! Make a Technology Contract

It’s important for everyone in your home to discuss and agree on boundaries for technology use.  Record your agreed upon expectations using a technology contract. Include what happens when boundaries are crossed. Write down your guidelines and post your contract in a place where it’s regularly visible. Remember, the contract should apply to everyone’s technology use, not just your kid’s. For more information about technology contracts and how to create them, explore our other post.

Digital Accountability: Should I Read Their Messages?

How do you make sure boundaries are respected? Should you go through your youth’s device?  How much parents monitor digital activities may vary. On one hand, you may consider privacy and trust. On the other, safety and responsibility. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. What helps is to have open discussions and hold everyone accountable. Boundaries can guide your kids toward digital responsibility by emphasizing values, mindfulness, and self-care. Have ongoing conversations as a family about safety and digital behavior. Creating technological boundaries is the first step in developing trust and accountability for device usage.

For more tips and information on how to handle family life during COVID-19, check out our blog and social media channels: