Latter-day Saint Life

Hoping to limit screen time this summer? Try 1 mom’s effective way of helping kids choose less on their own

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We can help our children make responsible choices when it comes to tech use.
Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

I’ll be honest: a lot of screen time is happening around our house, especially during the summer. To help us be more intentional with how we use our devices, we’ve started the season with some guidance from Emily Jones’s Seek course, Parenting in a Digital World with Confidence and Peace.

This faith-based approach to tech use in the home changes screen time from a battle to a productive conversation and helps everyone become more self-aware about using technology wisely.

Owned Opinions Matter

Rather than telling children about the dangers of smartphones and listing the many things wrong with technology, Emily recommends helping your child nurture what she calls “owned opinions” on these subjects.

She explains, “The reality is that if we really want our child to embrace certain truths about technology, we need to help them form a personal opinion about them. Opinions that they own.” When we do this, children embrace wise technology use for themselves, rather than feeling at odds with their parents about it.

Emily has a two-part pattern for helping children form these types of owned opinions. This pattern is easily replicated and meant to be repeated with different subjects and topics.

Once you identify a principle you want your child to understand about technology, the first step is to present them with helpful information on the subject. This requires some research to find information a particular child will best understand and digest. This could be an article, video, or even a social media post that you give the child to read or watch.

Second, ask your child what they thought about the information then listen to their answers with genuine curiosity and respect.

Emily explains, “This pattern is one that we’ve used in our own family’s training, and it is so powerful. ... It certainly gets [our children] thinking about important things. ... It also opens the way for you to show your child what a safe place you are to talk to about these things.”

Helping children learn and cultivate their own opinions about technology helps to make them more responsible tech users and opens trusted lines of communication between parent and child.

Emily shares, “This sets you up beautifully for times down the road when they may mess up. You will be the safe place to land, which is parenting gold.”

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Video Companion
Help children learn to make wise decisions about using technology

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