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Getting to grips with family screen time

18 June 2018

We are doubling down on our efforts at home to keep us all off our devices as much as possible and finally get to grips with family screen time. This is work in progress and I wanted to share the various approaches we are trying.

If you aren't convinced that you have a problem or you need a new incentive to try again then this extract gets to the heart of the issue:

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”

I wanted to share an article which appeared in The Guardian (back in October 2017) which was a real turning point in our house and really reinforced to me why it is SO important that we tackle digital distraction and find ways to set boundaries around our tech for ourselves and our kids.

Little things we have done at home to improve our habits and become more mindful of how and when we use screens:

Everyone now has an alarm clock. 

No devices to be used in bedrooms (day or night).

All phones and iPads live on a charging station in the kitchen and can only be checked there. This corner of the kitchen has been renamed the 'table of shame' and anyone seen there is questioned as to why they are on their phone or iPad:

Our eight year old went on a permanent iPad ban (I write about this more here) and I have to say the change in his behaviour has been remarkable.

We have regular switch off Sundays or entire switch-off weekends.

We use our phone lock-screens to prompt us into screen-free behaviour (read more about this here).

We installed phone use tracking apps to raise awareness of our habits.

The only thing which is annoying is that my youngest was given some very cool lego for his birthday but the instruction booklet is only available on the iPad so that is now the only app he is allowed to use! Bring back printed instruction booklets please Lego!

We touch on this topic in episode 3 of The Curious Parent Podcast in which counsellor Vicky Bellman and I discuss tackling tech at home.

What steps are you taking at home to tackle screen time?