Creating Good Technology Habits

Technology is a useful tool, and teaching teens to use it well will help them make sure that it does not negatively affect their lives.

By Hannah Renouard — May 3, 2023

Creating Good Technology Habits

Technology is simply a tool for use, only good or bad depending on its utilization. Building good technology habits provides a necessary and effective foundation for teaching this generation where it's an integral part of everyone's life. Though monitoring your child's technology use might be a good thing, it doesn't teach them how to ensure that technology becomes a positive supplement to their lives. Technology can provide many positive outcomes for many aspects of our daily lives—communication, amusement, time management, organization, etc. Yet, it can just as easily become a trap that causes unnecessary depression, anxiety, and stress.

What are some of the negative aspects to look out for?

Especially relevant to young users, social media and other access to digital platforms can create unrealistic ideas of the world while also contributing to dissatisfaction and insecurity about oneself and life. The pressure from the media-imposed unrealistic expectations contributes to unnecessary stress, depression, and anxiety. Physical issues can also be a result of the overuse of technology, including poor eyesight, and neck and back problems. Further, blue light from device screens is linked to disruption of sleep patterns, which negatively impact cogitative function and overall holistic health.

Luckily research has provided plenty of positive solutions to counter negative outcomes. The outcome of the use of technology is up to the user. This article will provide habits that parents and children can use to make technology an asset in your life.

Five changes to make in your technology use:

1. Teach your kid how to check in with their technology usage. Provide kids and teens some questions to ask themselves to determine whether technology has a positive or negative effect on their life. A few examples of these questions are:
a. How much time do I spend on my phone? If kids and teens realize that they pick up their phone often, it's useful to think about how that time is spent. There are plenty of good reasons for high phone usage: replying to friends, answering emails, and learning new information, but there are also many others.

Scrolling your phone when you're bored, want a distraction, or experiencing discomfort, do not represent healthy ways to utilize your phone. Those habits, though they seem harmless, create adults with attachment problems to their phone. This habit also creates coping mechanisms when dealing with the uncomfortable feelings that cause them to pick up and scroll.

b. What do I use my phone for? Conversations, making plans, finding places to eat, safety, etc. These are all good things! However, using your device as a distraction, for example, playing a game or scrolling Instagram to put off something else, causes stress when you still have to do that thing, but no longer have enough time. This habit also keeps you attached to the phone, constantly checking it even if there is no reason to.
c. Do all of my apps benefit me in some way The answer to this is probably no. I'm not saying everyone should only have messages and a calculator, but it's important to cut the clutter. If you look at your phone, and realize that some of the features only bring you distraction, stress, or anxiety, consider deleting it.
2. Social media studies linked overuse to depression and anxiety, especially in youth. The constant pull of information emerging from Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, etc., confuses the brain with the overstimulating flow of information. This causes what's called fight or flight mode. Constantly putting your body under extreme stress causes a consistent state of stress and anxiety, which may lead to depression. An article on the Effects of Social Media on Teenagers, lists "cyberbullying, body image issues, and tech addiction" as detrimental effects caused by social media.

Teenage years are some of the most vulnerable in a person's lifespan. Teens still must learn their views on the world and themselves. They are extremely vulnerable to the opinions of others and feel pressure from seeing people's posts, comparing themselves, and worrying about others' perceptions. Especially on social media apps like Instagram, sharing pictures, seeing other people through filters and edits, and relying on likes for affirmation can, overtime, cause severe self-image damage. Social media is not all negative, it can be inspiring and healthy to be connected to people all over that have the same interests and values. A few things to do to help your child keep their social media experience a positive one are:

a. Talk to your child about their experience on social media. Having a conversation about the positive and negative experiences on social media can help you to give your child the tools that they need to keep positivity in their social media use.
b. Teach them to manage their screen time. There are plenty of apps to track how much time is spent on social media, and teaching your child to use these will help them to stay in charge of their device use.
3. Managing notifications is a great tool to teach your kids so they only pick up their phones for good reasons. I have turned off notifications for everything except for messages and phone calls, and I have noticed that I barely look at my phone anymore. I used to pick it up every time I got a notification for an email or ad. When it wasn't important, I'd end up opening and scrolling Instagram after seeing a notification.
4. Taking technology breaks can be a great way to keep your technology use a positive experience.
a. Blocking off a few hours a day to turn everything off can free you up to get things done and check in with yourself.
b. Leaving your phone out of the bathroom can give you a few seconds to relax and be unreachable.
c. Have a room that you keep tech-free.
5. Creating family standards for technology use is a great way to pass on good habits to your kids. The example you set will help your kid use technology well. If they see you reaching for your phone all the time, they will do the same, if you treat it as just a helpful tool, they will see that.
a. Try having designated tech use areas that everyone sticks to. Maybe you keep laptop and TV use to just the common spaces.
b. If you have times blocked off to be tech free, make it a family rule that everyone observes.

Technology is a useful tool, and teaching teens to use it well will help them make sure that it does not negatively affect their lives. Putting your phone in airplane mode, buying an alarm, moving apps from the home screen, turning on the greyscale, and using focus mode are a few more ways to build intentionality in your phone use.

Hannah Renouard

Hannah Renouard

Hannah Renouard earned her B.A. in Liberal Arts from Wyoming Catholic College in 2020 and has worked as a freelance editor ever since. While earning her degree, Hannah minored in outdoor education and became a backpacking instructor. Hannah constantly looks for new places to adventure and travel to every chance she gets.
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