Where do you want your family to be by this time next year? What if you could look BACK on a year and know it was the pivotal year to set your family on a deliberate course toward more balance, greater connection, and stronger emotional, mental, and spiritual health? It’s completely possible! It starts with setting family goals, and the start of a new year is a perfect opportunity to look forward to where you want your family to be.
When we look back on 2018, we see a wealth of research that emerged on how our families and children are intersecting with technology, and the effects of those intersections. Notable findings came from Common Sense Media, Pew Research, Jean Twenge, FOSI, and Barna Research Group. These research reports have many details worth reading, and to summarize them into one simple conclusion would be presumptuous and undermining. However, the general consensus for most researchers studying families and technology is that we are in desperate need of re-evaluation and balance in our homes, and in society at large. Young people (and many not-so-young people) are not faring well in the face of MORE, MORE, MORE.
In light of those revelations, which were highly publicized by mainstream media and circulated by parents and educators on social media, we see 2019 as the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had to REVERSE COURSE. The pendulum is definitely starting to swing back to a more conservative viewpoint on how much technology is healthy and right for children to consume. Apple’s introduction of greater screen time and content limits this year is evidence for the case. The question for parents is HOW DO WE CHART A NEW COURSE WITH OUR INDIVIDUAL FAMILIES?
Thankfully, there are more and more people creating products and programs to help us get there. This year we encountered several new organizations and individuals who are working to help people find a greater sense of balance and connectedness. From Better Screen Time, to The New Norm, Catherine Price, PediMom, Let’s Talk USA, Mazu Family, Drive-A-Logue, and more. (Along with all of our standard faves on this Allies page.)
As our family looks to 2019, we are taking time over the next couple of days to consider what areas we need or want to grow in. We’re considering our screen time and putting a couple of media fasts on the calendar. We’re also talking about how to unplug regularly and what strategies we’ll need to transition our oldest to high school in the fall. We want to feel more connected as a family, and more present as parents. With the clock ticking down on our final years with our kids, we see with great urgency the lessons we want to pass on to them.
Some Goals You Might Consider
What about you? What are your 2019 family goals? Here are 15 example goals to consider as you envision the year ahead. Let’s make it the best year our families have ever known!
Increase the frequency of family dinners at the table… no phones allowed.
Plan unplugged family time in the evenings, instead of reverting to TV and video games.
Put screen-free days on the calendar ahead of time… and instead, plan analog family activities.
Remove all technology from bedrooms.
Read X number of books this year.
Reduce overall screen time, for parents and kids. To measure this, you’ll need to employ tools to help (iOS Screen Time, video game usage reports, time limits set on management software like Circle).
Connect your teen’s social media accounts to monitoring services like Bark, acknowledging your responsibility as a parent to train your teen in making healthy choices online.
Invite other families to your home who have similar goals for raising kids, and include an unplugged group activity on your agenda.
Talk to your school administrators about any vulnerabilities you see in the school or district technology policy.
Learn a new analog hobby… an instrument, a crafting skill, a sport, etc.
Take each kid on a one-on-one date.
Volunteer in your community to serve needy families.
Use tech for good! Find a way your family can utilize technology to help others, instead of mere entertainment and distraction.
Utilize car time for unplugged communication and connection, using great family resources like Drive-A-Logue!
Start brave conversations with other parents in your community about the challenges (and solutions) to parenting in the digital age.
We wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year! May this be the year we see parents rising to take back their families and lead their kids into greater connection and balance!