Healthy tech habits for parents, kids

Healthy tech habits for parents, kids

TRI-STATE (WFIE) - As the rest of the Tri-State students go back to school this week many schools are trading books for tablets.

That means students are facing even more screen time in and out of the classroom - making healthy tech habits more imperative.

Jennifer Jolly, Tech Expert and Mom, says that as technology becomes more intertwined with our daily lives, it's important to be conscious of the effects, both positive and negative.

"The challenge now is less about putting an exact time to how much screen time kids are getting and more about the quality of time they spend online because we also know and studies show when you actively engage with people and issues that you care about, it can have a positive impact on your well-being," Jolly said.

She says having open conversations with kids about social media and technology use is critical.

"It comes down to understanding what they're doing online and how they're using it and that starts with kind of the basic parenting 101," Jolly explained. "You need to have a good open relationship with your children and I know that's really tough. So one of the things is educate yourself and then talk to them 'hey what are you doing on Instagram?', get on Instagram yourself, follow them, have them follow you! Find out what they're doing and ask them 'who are your favorite people to follow on Instagram and why?"

She encourages parents to engage in technology alongside their kids, for example by playing their favorite video games alongside them sometimes.

"Parents come to me all the time and they say 'what's the deal with the 'Minecraft'?' Spend time doing it with them," Jolly stated. "Go on YouTube and watch a video of how they can better bring peace to that society in Minecraft. You do this stuff with them. It might not be the most fun thing you can do as a parent but it is so critical in their growth as raising healthy, wired kids in this day in age."

She said avoiding technology or taking it away isn't usually the best choice.

"If you threaten to take a teen's phone away or you say no social media at all, they're going to go get it at their friend's house and then if or when they do have problems with it or questions about it they can't come and talk with you about it," explained Jolly. "Supervise them safely and wisely and allow them to grow into good digital citizens."

Jolly said the key to healthy screen usage is awareness and open conversation with your kids.

"Get educated, talk with them about it early and often, and just make sure that you are reacting to healthy positive thoughts versus some fear of what might happen."

She also emphasizes the importance of parents modeling good behavior and healthy screen usage themselves, saying that many times parents can be just as bad, if not worse, than their kids when it comes to screen time.

Jolly encourages parents to lead by example and put the phone away at meal time and at bedtime put all devices in one central charging station overnight, away from bedrooms. Screens have been proven to mess with quality of sleep for both kids and parents.

Facebook and Instagram recently released new tools to help families keep track of and manage their screen time.

The new features include an activity dashboard that shows you how much time you spend on the app, a way to set a daily reminder not to exceed those daily goals and a new way to limit notifications.

You can access the tools through settings on both social media sites.

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