Alisa Van Langeveld is a faculty member at the University of Utah, parent expert, and creator of “10 Minutes Together” online. She is also a mother to 4 young kids. She joined us today to discuss tech health for families.
Parents do not need to be afraid of technology. By being intentional with limit setting, self-awareness and evaluation, we can nurture a “tech-healthy” family, Alisa tells us. Tech is everywhere, and it’s not going away. These days we work online, go to school online, play online, pass our time online. We do everything online. This new tool can be a problem or an opportunity.
A lot of parenting technology advice comes from a framework of fear which often leads to strict external control in place of mindful, practiced internal control. And only one of those really lasts. Its internal control. “Tech-healthy” means we have a healthy relationship with technology. It is not controlling us. We are in control and deliberate. So, how do we do that?
1. Practice ‘TECH SELF-AWARENESS’. How much. How you feel. Why. Result. Teach your kids this mindfulness self-evaluation and practice with them. Be intentional. Is tech helping you or hurting/distracting you? Practice this yourself. Model being a “tech-healthy” adult. Be aware of how often your kids see you on your phone. Put your phone down and connect, one-on-one every day.
2. Use a SCAFFOLDING APPROACH. Construction scaffolding has a strong frame with space to move inside. That means set limits (screen time, filters, allowed apps and online sites) and also allow for choice and flexibility WITHIN those limits. Make sure your children know WHY limits matter. This sets them up to use their own critical thinking and self-awareness to limit themselves when filters or parents are not around. The scaffolding approach allows parents to gradually open up control to our children.
3. START THE CONVERSATION and continue it often. Review “tech self-awareness”, teach good online behavior, teach critical thinking skills (to spot misinformation), review limits, problem solve, adjust the scaffolding and keep engaging.
Start the discussion today and revisit it often. Next week, Alisa will be teaching a free “Tech-healthy Parenting” mini-course with Andrea Davis author of “Better Screen Time”