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ParentingDigital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage

With workplaces now adapting to the changes of recent years, people spend more time on their gadgets. This is supposed to be a welcome change for families as this means more time spent together at home.

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, more families report that they’re drifting farther apart now that more time they spend on their screens. This makes each of the family members, especially the children, feel less supported.

So if your family is on the brink of becoming strangers, you may take a leaf out of these 8 rules for healthier social media usage.

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage

1. Identify your “Why”

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Identify your Why

This first rule might be counterproductive, but this clarifies why you and your kids spend so much time on social media. Is it because you feel more connected with friends than your family? 

Or you want to feel validated? Or do you simply want to entertain yourselves after a long day?

Whatever “why” you have for keeping yourselves busy on social media, list it on paper. If you want, you can even call for a family meeting so everyone gets to listen.

This way, each family member understands their motivation for using social media and makes them more intentional with it.

2. Assign Screen-Free Zones

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Assign Screen-free Zones

You’ve now identified the reason behind your social media usage. Now, it’s time for you to find out which rooms in the house need to become screen-free zones.

And by screen-free, it strictly means no electronic gadgets of any type within these rooms. Even if the pinging you hear is from your work, you can’t bring in your gadget in that area. 

Rooms that you can start designating as screen-free zones include the dining and living rooms. This way, everyone in the room can have real conversations — sneaky scrolling is not allowed!

You can even add no phone zone decals so everyone cannot make excuses for bringing their gadgets there.

Take a few tips from this particular family on how they keep everyone engaged even without phones in their living room.

3. Device-Free Meals Policy

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Device-free Meals Policy

As the dining room is included in the screen-free zone, it’s understandable that the device-free meals policy should be imposed. One study correlates longer screen times with the likelihood of using gadgets during meals and being fed in front of them.

This increases obesity risk as you can’t check whether you’re taking more food than usual. Plus, you’re prone to binging on your favorite junk food whenever you’re on your phone.

It may seem backward-thinking for some, but mealtimes are chances to reconnect with each other after a long day. Make a pact — parents included — to keep your phones and tablets on the table.

Who knows, you’ll finally discover what your kids’ voices sound like!

4. Have a Social Media Detox Day

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Have a Social Media Detox Day

Are you serious? A whole day of not checking the latest gossip on your social media feed? 

Yep, you heard it right. One way to set healthy boundaries with social media usage is to assign a full day of no screen time in a week or a month. This way, if you have trouble parting with your phones, you can at least have a day to engage in other activities you love.

I tried this with my family, and it sure worked wonders with my kids’ screen usage. Now, we go 5 days a week without them constantly asking for their screen time.

Still not convinced? Then check out these reasons for doing a digital detox.

5. Be Mindful of Your Social Media Posts

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Be Minful of your Social Media Posts

Enough with the no-screen rules. Now we start focusing on how social media positively impacts the world.

People feel there is too much drama on social media. A lot of times, you don’t have control over what posts you can see, causing unwarranted psychological stress.

While you can’t meddle with how others air out their sentiments, you can change how you use your social media. The easiest way to start this is to be mindful of your posts.

Before you hit “Post,” ask yourself whether you’re seeking genuine connection or validation. This is the same premise why sharenting is slowly falling out as a fad.

This way, you don’t let social media make you lose sight of what truly matters — the memories you create with your family.

6. Fact-Check What You Read

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Fact-Check What You Read

Not everything online is true. That’s a sad reality, especially now that AI apps are on the rise. Anyone can just feed the AI app with an image or idea to prompt it, hit “Enter,” and you’ve got content in less than a minute.

Safe to say, misinformation is fast running rampant!

While AI has its good uses for social media platforms, it’s important to teach our kids to question what they read first before believing them. If you can set aside time for this, teach them what articles they can search for online for comparison purposes.

National Geographic Kids has some great tips for helping children become expert fact-checkers.

7. Parental Controls is a Must 

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Parental Controls is a Must

If you can’t get your kids to surrender their gadgets or respect “no-screen” zones, set parental controls instead. While this is usually recommended for younger children, this is also helpful when filtering content your teens shouldn’t see.

Google and Apple have resources on the internet teaching parents to set up parental controls on their kids’ devices. You can set content filters, boundaries, and even time limits to help regulate your social media consumption as a family.

Again, the goal here is not to spy on our kids, but just to be on alert. After all, safety is the number one priority we have as parents.

8. Lead by Example

Digital Detox for Families: 8 Rules for Healthier Social Media Usage Lead by Example

You might have followed all the seven steps above. If you aren’t following the rules, then everything’s futile. 

Children learn by observing what the adults do. If you aren’t following the set rules, then your kids will at the very least be confused. Worst case, they will protest. After all, why will they follow you if you do the opposite of what you’re saying?

If you want your children to develop healthy relationships with social media, model that behavior first. You can impose the same sanctions or consequences you have set on your children if you breach any of the rules set.

Everything’s fair in love and war, right?

Conclusion

Reclaiming the whole family’s digital well-being is not an easy journey, but it is one worth taking. Sticking to the guidelines helps you cut back on your social media obsession and build closer family ties.

So, learn the art of logging off and start living again as a family with a healthier and happier dynamic!

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