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Taking Action: Taming Your Own Use of Electronics

It can make your head spin thinking about all of the issues around technology and family life. A little self-evaluation is an important step in creating technology-life balance in your home. The key is to remember that we are just as vulnerable as our children are to getting lost in a fog of technology.

Your child may be so much more tech-savvy that you are, but you have the wisdom and life-experience to guide them through the challenges that technology poses, just like you help them learn how to be empathetic, thoughtful and productive people in other respects.

But you need to take the first step. Have you ever been on the computer or using your smart phone or tablet when: you’re having a meal with your child, they’re struggling to get everything organized for the day in the morning, they walk through the door after school, they’re telling you about the day or asking for help with homework, you’re watching a practice, game or performance (or even waiting for any of these to begin), they are answering a question you just asked them, they’re getting ready for bed, or you’re just hanging out together. The answer is almost certainly yes to at least one of these examples. And there are probably more you can think of for yourself.

Turn the timer back on yourself, and limit your own use of electronics. It is hard to resist taking the phone out of your bag to check for that work email while your child goes to find the library books that need to be returned. Resist the temptation. Be present so that you don’t miss the subtle cue your child may be sending when they walk in the door and you know to keep asking questions about how their day went. Otherwise, you might not learn what is making them sad or what help they need. When you ask your child to put their cell phone aside during family dinner or when you’re playing a board game together, you need to do the same. Unless you model the behavior you want, your efforts are doomed to failure.

This effort is an opportunity to get curious about what your child is thinking and feeling. The conversation may start about how hard it is to not feel like you have to immediately respond to every electronic ping and chirp, but with persistence, something magical may happen and shared experience may plant a seed that stays with your child forever and becomes a precious memory.