There’s no denying that technology plays an increasingly important and useful role in our lives. In fact, according to recent research by Statistics Canada, most Canadians say life is better with technology. For me, it helps me be more productive at work and stay better connected with my family and friends, near and far. One of the greatest benefits I enjoy is the instant access to information, when and where I need it – everything from email and calendar access, to weather, directions, product reviews and more.
At the same time however, some Canadians say technology can interfere with their lives, and many parents worry about the effects of screen time on their children. It is therefore not surprising to see technology usage related New Year’s resolutions being added to the list, along with eating better, exercising more, sleeping longer, drinking less and the list goes on.
Here are some easy tips and realistic strategies to help you more effectively manage your technology use in 2018:
- Turn off notifications – you may wish to be notified if you get a text from someone important, but getting notifications when a new video is posted to YouTube or when you have a new set of lives on Candy Crush is less critical. Be selective about which notifications you allow, or turn them off all together, helping you resist the temptation to constantly check your phone. Adjust your notifications in your phone’s Settings or in the App’s settings).
- Turn off autoplay – it’s hard to step away from Netflix when the next episode of Stranger Things starts as soon as the last one finishes. Turn autoplay off in your Netflix profile (Your Account > Playback Settings). You can also turn off autoplay in Apps such as Facebook in the App Settings. This can be helpful if you’re worried about data consumption too.
- Be cognizant about when and where you’re using your device – use the night mode feature on your phone to limit the times of day at which your phone rings, or better still, you can turn it off at certain times of day, or leave it out of sight, out of mind. For instance, leave it in the glovebox when you’re driving, or keep it out of the bedroom when you’re sleeping. You may opt to not allow phones at the dinner table to help ensure quality, undistracted family time.
- Seek out some variety and time away from the screen – with so much screen time in our lives – whether it’s at work, on social media, or binge watching your favourite TV show, it’s important to make a conscious effort to step away and do something different once in a while – it can be as simple as picking up an interesting book, or going for walk, or maybe 2018 is when you can start a new class or hobby you’ve been thinking about.
Last but not least, remember to be a good role model, especially if you’re concerned about your children’s screen time and want to help them achieve a healthy balance.
Children and screen time
It’s important to establish family rules for when, where and how long children can enjoy screen time. Leaving phones and other technology out of the bedroom is a good practice, and avoiding screen time before bed is recommended as it can interrupt with your child’s sleep. Finally, co-viewing and actively participating in your children’s digital lives is critical. Converse with them regularly about what they’re doing online and the apps they’re using. Parental Control solutions/apps can also help you monitor your child’s usage and screen time. See PCMag.com for reviews and recommendations or search your App Store for popular solutions. Just remember, these tools aren’t always fool proof and shouldn’t replace ongoing, open dialogue with your children.
If you wish to learn more about guidelines for screen time for kids, please see the Canadian Paediatric Society’s report, titled Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world – sponsored by TELUS WISE, this research project provides insights into the impacts of screen time and recommendations for appropriate use of screen time.
Whatever your goals and resolutions maybe, we wish you success and an amazing 2018, and look forward to continuing our efforts to keep you and your families safe online.