3 Tech Resolutions Every Parent Needs to Make

Family Matters on 01.05.12
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Photo: Laura St. John

Eat healthier, exercise more: blah, blah, blah. Of course every New Year, we all make resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. But most of us are missing one major area we habitually use and abuse everyday: technology.

This year, make sure your diet includes a healthier digital media diet. Your tech resolution shouldn't just include switching to Facebook Timeline (although I am happy to admit I just checked that one off my list). See if you need to slim down on any of these unhealthy tech habits with me:

1. Don't Get Caught DUI-T (Driving Under Influence of Technology)

You don't drink and drive, right? Yet, most of us are guilty of driving under the influence of technology. For many of us, picking up and checking the phone is habitual -- just like a drug. Our own kids can come to our rescue: This year, I assigned my boys to be my cell phone police. They will not allow me to break this resolution! My 5-year-old actually asked me the other day if it's ok to be calling Aunt Katherine while I was driving. I almost made up an excuse that I needed to call her because... Then I said, "No honey, you are right -- it's not ok." And put down my phone.

I don't want to be caught with a DUI-T, especially by my new pint-size police force! I pledge to finally sync my phone with the blue-tooth dude icon in my car, so my phone can work through my radio. I'm putting my phone away in my purse, out of sight. I'm also turning off all chimes for new texts, so I'm not tempted. Once I arrive at my destination -- safely -- then I can check to see if anything is urgent. If it is, I'll answer. If not, then it can wait - I don't want to be a half-parent!

2. Stop Half-Parenting

Half-parenting happens when you live half in the real world and half in the virtual world that's at your fingertips. It's when you get sucked into reading something on your screen -- and you honestly don't realize it -- until your child's voice starts to rise louder and louder, as they repeat a question to you for the third time. "Mom, did you hear me?"

Agh -- I'm so guilty! I made a safe tech routine for my kids, yet neglected my own. To assist both parties, consider adjusting your computer setup. Although it was a safe idea to have the computer in our living space, it's the most deadly setup for half-parenting. I'm moving into a new office space (with a door) and leaving a computer in the living room for the kids.

If it's during work hours, then I set a high expectation they must respect me while I do my work. But if it's off-work hours, my resolution is to always, always, acknowledge my children when they enter the room and when they talk to me. Unlike my files, my kids can't be saved and closed, and I don't want to miss out on life's precious moments because I am answering a work email or texting my frend.

3. Avoid Nasty Text Etiquette

You pick up your kid in one arm, and you hear the text chime in your pocket. Your friend sends you a hilarious text. It's amazing what you can do with 2 arms, but when one of them is holding one of your kids, you need to pay closer attention to your text etiquette. You're sending 2 messages when you choose to send a reply: one message goes in a split milli-second back to your friend, that says "LOL," and the other is a lasting message that gets sent to your child, that says, "That text was just as important as you."

Ouch! I don't want to set a bad habit or send the wrong message. My 3 little boys will grow up someday, and I don't want them to ignore me for meaningless texts, get caught with a DUI-T, or think it's ok to be half-kids back to me!

Laura St. John is Co-Creator of Discovery Kids Puterbugs, a technology program for kids that teaches kids 8 and younger healthy ways to use technology as a tool, not just a toy. Classes are offered in locations throughout the US, as well as an anywhere-anytime online format. Listen to Laura's webinar to learn more about bringing the program to your area.

Related Articles on Healthy Tech Habits:
Create a Safe Tech Routine in 3 Simple Steps
Do You Model Unhealthy Tech Habits?
How Our Kids Will Use Technology to Save the Planet