Cell phones, smart phones, e Book readers and tablets have always had a common problem. Their screens are too susceptible to smudging, damage or even breakage resulting in total loss of use. Accessory manufacturers...
Creating Healthy Digital Habits for Families with Digital Wellbeing and Family Link on Android
Creating Healthy Digital Habits for Families with Digital Wellbeing and Family Link on Android #DigitalWellbeing #Android
Creating healthy digital habits; what does that even mean? That is a question that I have struggled to answer for both myself and my children. We live in an age where news and information about anything and everything are available 24/7 with very little restriction. This is a very unique time in history, and in truth, most of us are not all that well prepared for this new world. I know I’m not.
When I was a kid, the computer wasn’t a thing that would ever be found in a home. There was no such thing as a cell phone. As a child I never learned about the responsible use of connected technology; nobody learned that stuff. We didn’t learn the rules because tech didn’t exist. This means as a parent I am raising digital kids without the benefit of growing up digital myself. I’m making up the rules as I go; that’s the best I can do.
The good news is that there is hope. I think as a society we have finally recognized that if we are not careful, information and connectivity will overwhelm us. Parents, schools, and companies like Android have all taken notice, and as a result tools have been built to help teach digital best practices.
In this post we are going to take a look at how we can help build healthy digital habits within ourselves and our children using the tools offered by Android. As an Android user myself, I have personal experience with both the Digital Wellbeing and Family Link tools. So let's dive right in and see what there is to learn.
Read our previous Google posts:
Teaching Kids to Be Good Digital Citizens and Be Internet Awesome | Digital Safety Resources Every Parent Needs | Teaching Children the Responsible Way to Use Technology | 5 Reasons Why It's Cool to be Kind for Kids
Balance Technology with Android
So what are Digital Wellbeing and Family Link? Well, they are software tools offered on Android that are designed to promote the healthy use of personal technology. I think of it like this; Digital Wellbeing is for me, the adult. It allows me to do things like see how much time I am spending on my device and what programs I am using. If you have never looked at this information on your own device before you may be in for a surprise; I sure was.
When I first learned how much time I spent on my phone each day I was shocked. Six hours. I was spending one quarter of my day interacting with my phone. I had a problem, and I didn’t even know it.
There was good news however. The Digital Wellbeing information built into Android didn’t just show me that I was spending too much time on my device, It also showed me how I was spending that time. I wasn’t too concerned with some of the numbers; an hour a day answering emails while on the go is ok I guess…but an hour a day playing Tower Defense games is maybe a bit much. In the end, I cut around 2 hours of screen time from my day, just by making myself aware of how I was choosing to spend my time and interact with the world around me. And just like that, I had created a positive digital habit.
Another personal struggle for me has been disconnecting at the end of the day. I really…. I mean really…do no know when to put my device down and just go to bed. There always seems to be another email to answer or cat video to watch. This is where Wind Down helps me. Wind Down is an Android feature that silences my phone with Do Not Disturb while simultaneously turning the screen gray at a specific time at night. For me this helps; the screen change from color to gray is surprisingly effective at getting me to put down my phone. I get a better nights sleep now, and it all came down to just teaching myself another positive digital habit.
Ok, so while Digital Wellbeing is built to help me, Family Link is built to help me teach my children. Family link allows me to take control of how my children are using their devices. I can do things like manage what apps they use and set screen time limits. Now to me as a parent, those are two very important things.
Take screen time. I just wrote about how I personally struggled with screen time and how I addressed the issue. What about my kids though? How do I teach them something that I am only now really getting under control? I’ll tell you how. I didn’t.
But then one day I grabbed my youngest daughters device and took a look at how much time she spent staring at the screen. Once again I was shocked, but at least I now had a clue as to what to do. We set up the Family Link. Now I can control how much she interacts with her device, and that has helped tremendously. Now if she needs more time, she has to come to me and ask. That in turn opens up opportunities to have real conversations with her about how she interacts with the digital world.
Teaching Kids Mindful Digital Habits
My wife and I both use the information and tools within Android to help form good digital habits within our children. Of course, we don't simply stop there. We decided a long time ago that trying to shield our children from the dangers of the information age would not work; there are simply too many ways for a child to gain access to the internet. So instead of trying to wall our children off from the internet, we chose to shepherd them through, guiding with both frequent conversations and software. This has served us well in the past with all of our kids.
As an example, there was a video that went viral a few years ago. The video contained some graphic imagery, and our youngest (10 at the time) saw it. The video had an impact on her; she was disturbed by what she had seen, and she thought she would be in trouble for seeing it.
The thing is, she didn’t watch to “be bad”, she watched because she had heard the video was cool. She didn’t understand what she was going to see. Now as her parent, I can’t shield her from everything; it’s not possible. But what I can do is combine thoughtful conversation with tool sets like what is offered by Android to keep her as safe as possible while teaching her about the digital world. We don't want them to be afraid of technology, we want them to respect it. And the truth is tools like Digital Wellbeing and Family Link go a long way to creating the habits that lead to responsible use of technology.
Get social with Android & Google
For more helpful tools for parents to create healthier digital habits for their whole family, visit the digital wellbeing site.
Play Interland with your kids and put your kindness skills to the test at g.co/KindKingdom