How To Clean Up Your Kid’s Smartphone Habits (Now.)

Time to clean up bad tech habits and set your family up for success for the new school year. Follow this guide and you will get results. 
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits

That’s all we can really ever do as parents – make one single decision at a time. And that’s how we can raise healthy, great kids and teens. What I’m asking you to focus on this August (before school starts up again in September) is one tiny decision at a time.

About what? Smartphones. Social media usage. Screen time. The habits that literally mold your kids’ brains.

Here’s how you can get control of old, bad habits and turn them into new, positive habits that will support a healthy mindset and positive wellbeing for your kids (and you). This process below can be achieved in just a few days. They key: commit to doing it! Your kids will thank you for it (well, maybe in 30 years).
1. First, start with a relaxed discussion. Pick a few of these questions to get you started:
-What do you love about your phone and the apps you use?
-What do you not like about them?
-Do you like the amount of time you spend on your phone?
-During the summer were you on it more or less than the school year?
-What amount of time per day do you think will make you feel the best during the upcoming school year?
-Are there specific apps that you know you want to limit time on?

2. Next, get buy-in.
Have a follow up discussion with your kids and teens.
Say something like, “I want to help you be the happiest you can be, and so I’d like to set some limits to your phone and apps. Would you like to do it with me? We can agree on time limits together. Of course, I’ll make the final decision because I’m your parent, but I am definitely open to your input and will take it into consideration.”

3. Then, use Screen Time controls on iPhones and Androids to set times when their phone is locked, and put limits on specific apps. 
General guideline: Teens should spend no more than 2 hours per day on screens (not including school work), so limit individual apps to total no more than 2 hours each! Let your teen decide how many minutes for which apps. That’s a great way to give them a say in it.

4. Now, use fun tools to gain a deeper understanding for longer-lasting results.
Take time with you kids and teens to explore some of these awesome tools that help us take control of tech and understand how tech and social media impact our minds and our moods.

Screen Time Genie – Created by researchers at Stanford. This tool helps you set goals for new habits and links you to online tools and resources. It’s fun!
Center for Humane Tech Take Control Tips – A favorite resource for quick changes that you can implement right away. Like, turn off notifications for any non-important apps!
Digital Detox Challenge – Created by teens for teens. Try a 3-day or 7-day challenge with your teen before summer ends!
Game Quitters Hobby Tool – Created by an ex-gamer. If your teens can’t answer the question, “What’s your favorite hobby?” then we’re in trouble. Help them find a new hobby asap!
Family Guides for answering hard questions about phones and tech from the forward-thinking, parent-run organization Wait Until 8th. 

Here’s to Your Well Being,
Lauren Muriello, MA LPC
Founder, Licensed Psychotherapist
, Techie Mom