Time to Create Healthier Digital Habits and Get Rid of Some "Stuff"

There is no denying that, these days, technology is a big part of our kids' lives. We live in  digital world, and our children are constantly surrounded by screens and sounds and sights and gadgets and gizmos. With this truth in mind, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association wants to ensure that language and speech development continue to thrive. That's why it's important to ask yourself if your family's tech use sparks positive joy or negative consequences? If it's the latter, it might be time to take the Marie Kondo approach to help build healthy tech habits for you and your kids.

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Carve out dedicated tech-free times each day. Pick a time, even if it is just a half hour or hour, where everyone in the family puts their devices away. No interruptions allowed. Maybe it's dinner time, or the hour before bed. This is your time to recharge your family connection.

Dedicate tech-free zones in the home. Feeling more ambitious? Take one of your beautiful new de-cluttered spaces inspired by Marie Kondo and further transform it into a tech-free zone, such as the family room or the kitchen. This can be an oasis away from all the noise and distraction of social media, email, video games, texting and everything else that keeps us on edge, distracted, and disengaged.

Do a tech audit. It's easier than ever to see how you are spending you and everyone in your family is spending their time online, with many operating systems are now automatically logging this for customers and sending weekly screen time reports. But have you really taken a look and digested how many hours a day you are spending on various apps? Is this time well spent? Is what you are doing online "sparking joy?" These reports may inspire you to make some changes.

Make a tech swap. Swap out some tech time for one other activity a day or week... playing a board game, talking a family walk, or doing anything else you or your family haven't had the time to do. We often feel so busy, but everyone could surely find 30 minutes that they are spending on phones or tablets to make room in their lives for this quality time.

Create a family technology plan-together. Sometimes, a formal commitment drives adherence. Want to make more healthy tech use a habit rather than a passing fluke? Create an agreed upon set of rules around family members' technology use (when, where, how much, for what, with whom, etc.) to keep everyone on track. By involving your kids in the process, you are more likely to achieve the results you want.

Make screen time a shared activity. Screen time tends to be a solitary activity, but it doesn't haveto be. If your kids are playing a game on their tablets, ask if they can teach you to play... or even if you can just watch. Ask questions-let them teach you something. You'll get a window into their world, giving new opportunities for communication and connection.

Listen safely. With kids and adults alike logging more time than ever using headphones or earbuds as they listen to music, binge watch a new show, or play interactive video games on their devices-in their homes and on the go-it's critical to pay attention to the volume so that you and your family members aren't inadvertently setting yourselves up for future hearing loss. The World Health Organization says 1.1 billion adults ages 18-35 may be at risk for noise-induced hearing loss from loud tech devices. Turn the volume to half and take listening breaks.

Want to read more? Here are 4 tips to help manage your kids' screen time.

This is not a sponsored post. Tips courtesy of ASHA.

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