The Simple Trick I Used to Get My Family’s Smartphone Use Under Control
Finding the right place for all family’s devices — A better place to charge them and keep them out of the way (at least for a little bit)
It’s 3PM and my kids are back from school, throwing their bags to one side, their shoes to the other, the kitchen looks like a tornado just hit it, and don’t get me started on their rooms. The only thing that does find it’s way “home”, is their smartphone. And by “home” I mean our charging station.
But let me back up…
As my kids got older, once starting middle school, each got a mobile phone. We gave them a smartphones because they were, for us, safety tools for essential communication. My kids will not call me, but will send me a message via text, iMessage or whatsapp. Now I could reach them when I needed to, and they could always reach me.
It wasn’t long before the “innocent” communication device was used for more than just that.
As time passed, the scene I was witnessing was of them on their phones VS other activities I used to see them doing.
I would be walking by, asking them what they are doing, and their answer would be:
“Mom, I’m just texting my friend to ask a question.”
“Mom, I need to check my homework online.”
Me: “Why with your phone? Don’t you have a computer for that?”
It wasn’t long before the kids started abusing it:
“Mom, it’s a cool game, and everyone in my class are on it now.”
“Mom, I’m in the middle of a battle, they are all counting on me!”
Me: “What battle? Oh, the (app) one on your phone…”
“Mom, I’m going to sleep soon, just one thing…” — at 2 a.m. in the morning!!!
We all know why (or at least one reason why) those little devices are being abused, and it’s hard to control that. Our kids spend too much time on those devices. And let’s face it, we cannot be watching our kids 24/7, therefore we cannot (and sometimes don’t want to) monitor every move they make; they need to learn to make the right choices on their own — that includes the smartphone.
So what can we do — besides the easy way of taking the phones away for good, or switching to a flip phone?
Simple. Find it a “Home”, a new home in your home.
Set a place where you put all personal mobile devices to be charged and stored. That is now their new “Home.”
Choose this location wisely. Make sure it’s a common and public location.
Why a common and public location? Because they will think twice before abusing those devices knowing everyone sees them doing that.
You can decide what works for you: the living room, the dining room, your mud r room… For us, it’s at the kitchen. Again, as long as it’s a common location. Remind the kids, and do it too, once at home to place the mobile devices there. Now, if anyone try to abuse their screen time (for example by sneaking one away when they shouldn’t), you as a parent will know.
I even took this concept to the next level and bought a charging station. We have iPads, mobile phones, Kindles — you name it — and all are charged and stored there.
We made it as a habit to charge it while doing homework or enjoying a family activity, and put it to “bed” (charge it again) when it’s time for bed.
A new “Home” for the personal devices with the excuse of charging can go a long way. Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you.
Here is my charging station :)
Tali Orad, Founder & CEO of Screen / Founder of B.E.CPR, Inc
Entrepreneur and engineer, but most importantly, a mom to a son and two daughters, little angels that were spending way too much time on their electronic devices. That’s what inspired Tali to create Screen and reconnect with her family.