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25 healthy technology habits of happy families

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How to restore online-offline balance to your busy lives

  
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If your family is feeling ‘thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread’[i], it’s time to inject some much-needed balance into your household. And one place to start making changes is your relationship with digital media.

Start following the 25 healthy technology habits below to begin restoring harmony and stability to your brood.


Happy families create technology routines – and stick to them

  1. Plan a weekly family non-tech day that gets you reading books, playing board games, exercising and taking in fresh air.
  2. Plan a bi-weekly family tech day that revolves around gaming, digital scrapbooking, creating and uploading videos, planning a holiday or building a website. 
  3. Enforce a strict ‘no technology at mealtime’ rule. This is when interfacing of the human variety should be promoted.
  4. Implement a digital curfew: Two hours before bed, turn off all electronic devices. This simple lifestyle change has been known to improve sleep, mood, anxiety, weight loss and productivity.
  5. Charge laptops and gadgets – including smartphones and mp3 players – in an area of the house other than your bedrooms every night.

    Related reading: How to Get to Sleep in Your Tech-Connected Home



Happy families use technology tools that help them work smarter, not harder

  1. Use social media platforms, apps and software to communicate with extended family. You’re already online, so it’s easy to make Gran’s day by sending her a quick joke on WhatsApp or buzzing her on Skype.
  2. Outfit your computers with antivirus software that catches time-sucking, headache-inducing malware. This type of set-it-and-forget-it technology is a lifesaver for families who want to spend their precious hours having fun, not manually running scans.
  3. Spread the antivirus software love to your mobile devices too. You do just as much – if not more – banking, shopping and surfing on these mini-computers as you do with larger PCs.
  4. Use a privacy scanner tool that automatically checks your social media permissions. Most platforms’ privacy settings change in a hummingbird’s heartbeat, and it’s challenging to keep up. This tool takes guessing out of the equation and keeps you safe from unwanted contact.  
  5. Install parental control software that does the tedious work for you. Monitoring tools are not foolproof, but they can make your job easier by reporting where your kids are and what they’re doing online.



Happy families use technology to prepare for successful futures

  1. Model the same healthy technology habits that you want your children to adopt as they grow into full-fledged digital citizens. If balance is what you want, it’s time to show them what it looks like.
  2. Review your kids’ online reputations and make changes that universities and employers will find appealing.
  3. Boost your online reputations through offline activities like volunteering, playing sport or engaging in a group event that supports a cause.
  4. Organize your digital media storage. Creating a system for the family means data loss is kept at a minimum and less time is spent digging for older files.
  5. Future proof your family’s data. This strategy ensures your media survives time and turmoil. (Antivirus software protection should figure within this plan as you never want malware to unexpectedly ruin your files).

    Related reading: 5-Step Future-Proofing Strategy to Protect Your Files for Decades



Happy families are savvy self-educators when it comes to technology 

  1. Stay on top of the games and software your children use. Regularly check their devices and consoles.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings and terms of service of your kids’ favourite social media platforms and apps.
  3.  Educate your children on the difference between cyberbullying, being mean and causing drama. Develop strategies with them around how to report negative behaviour and to whom.
  4. Learn how to install safe, free apps. You and your young ones should know to first read the comments, check the latest updates and review the developer before downloading the app from a trusted store.
  5. Identify spam and scams before you become victims. Phishing and malware are no match for families who can spot the signs of digital foul play. Check out the related-reading link below if your need pointers on how to identify threats:

    Related reading: Online Security for You and Your Family



Happy families are clear and practical with their technology expectations

  1. Create technology rules as a family. There’s built-in buy-in when your kids feel included in making decisions.
  2. Use a family mobile-safety contract to guarantee everyone knows the rules and consequences around digital devices.
  3. Remain flexible when special circumstances arise. Sometimes a school project or work event requires a family member to ramp up technology usage outside of previous agreements.
  4. Adjust expectations as children get older and exhibit maturity.
  5. Be consistent with consequences. When the punishment contradicts what has been agreed upon, confusion and anger ensues. Not pretty.

    Related reading: 3 Outstanding Mobile-Safety Contracts for Your Kids

 

As you can see, it takes more than parental control software and a handful of hard-nosed rules to restore balance and bliss to a digitally connected family.

But after some time and collective effort, these healthy technology habits will land your family in that sweet spot where online and offline activity brings you closer together.

Tweet us @TrendMicroUK if you have a favourite family tech tip you’d like to share.


[i]: J.R.R. Tolkein Lord of the Rings


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