Digital habits: Here are 4 tips parents can share with kids

By: Neil Mitchell

Since many parents have been more connected at home during the pandemic, it may take a proactive effort to recognize our own tech behavior.

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When my kids were 2 and 3 years old, I recall them playing games that included imaginary phone calls. With 2 parents periodically working from home and everyone always multitasking, my kids’ take on a phone call was to hold a mobile phone in place between the head and shoulder—no hands—while taking care of something else. During our busy lives at the time, that was how we inadvertently showed our kids how to talk on the phone.

The takeaway isn’t that we desperately needed headsets at the time (I get that now!). Rather, it’s a light moment that shows how easily kids adopt their parents’ digital habits.

Working from home during the pandemic, many parents have been more reliant on online technology than ever. The shifts in our habits have been more visible to kids as our homes have become our office space.

What kind of digital role model have you been during the pandemic? Have you let responsible tech behavior slide during this time? If you’re setting a bad example, how do you self-correct and demonstrate healthy digital habits? Hopefully the concepts below will be helpful for those looking to establish or reestablish responsible digital habits so you can be a positive role model for your kids.

Establish better working-from-home boundaries.

“Nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends, and 45 percent say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before,” according to a survey of 2,800 workers by Los Angeles–based staffing firm Robert Half.

We’re all familiar by now of being overly attentive to devices, whether working, texting or playing a world-building game. Since many of us have been more connected at home during the pandemic, it may take a proactive effort to recognize our own behavior. Be aware of excessive work. For example, if it is interfering with family time, stop before you respond and ask yourself, “Do I really need to reply to this email right now?” Try to find that healthy balance in front of your kids when you can.

Follow your own rules.

Any expectations you have for your kids’ screen time should be your own expectations, too. This is the essence of role modeling. When parents demonstrate healthy digital habits through their own actions, it creates an atmosphere of expected behavior within the home.

Practice the art of powering down.

Taking time to put down devices—at dinner, bedtime or certain family activity times, for example—can also establish a balanced foundation.

Beyond making mandatory shutdown times through rules, parents can also create a home environment where devices are not constantly being checked. There are other advantages to this as well. Avoiding blue light in active electronics behavior (texting, social media, emailing) has also been shown in studies to have positive effects on our circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.

Use tools that can help.

If you need help setting rules and making sure they are followed, your devices often have ways to help. Apps such as Verizon’s Smart Family allow parents to set time restrictions that ensure rules are followed. You can also track usage and set alarms to better manage your kids’ behavior and your own role modeling that will set the standards in your home.

Get some help managing screen time in your home with Smart Family.

About the author(s):

Neil Mitchell has been helping Verizon for 15 years on online safety and digital parenting issues.


Verizon's Parenting in a Digital World Portal publishes articles from a diverse set of authors with expertise across the digital safety spectrum. Contributors to the Portal are compensated by Verizon for their work.

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