So how do you feel about New Year's resolutions? It’s ok, you can be honest. Some people just love them. A clean slate! A fresh start! The opportunities are endless! Sound like someone you know? Others aren’t quite so enthusiastic. Too much hype, not realistic, forced, etc. etc. That one sound more of your tune?
However you might feel about making resolutions, one thing we can probably all agree on is that surviving the past few years was no small feat and that we’re hoping for something new and better.
In fact, in many ways it feels almost impossible to separate the last few years and all the challenges they’ve brought. Was it actually more than two years ago that the world suddenly shut down, home became the classroom and the office all in one, and (apparently) half the country collectively decided to start baking sourdough bread at the same??
Maybe one reason it feels so hard to judge time these past two years is because so much of life moved into a screen. We learned to Zoom like pros (but still, somehow, not how to mute/unmute?), what the “cloud” is, and how many “pings” a human can possibly get in one day. But we also lost much of the day-to-day human interaction and normal rhythms of life.
Screens have become a more dominate, more magnetic, and more compulsive presence in our lives these last two years - not because we planned it or because we were lazy or anything else - but simply because it just happened as the whole world changed.
If you’re a parent or a guardian looking back and asking whether “digital life” makes up too much of your family’s “real life,” we’re right there with you.
Why make digital wellness resolutions in the first place?
When we think of New Year’s resolutions we tend to think of things like “run a half marathon” or “get more sleep” (but seriously, more sleep). Some might be asking why resolutions around digital wellness matter at all. Great question!
The first and most obvious reason is that more of our lives happen on screens so making intentional decisions related to them can have a HUGE impact on our lives and well being.
In fact, a study conducted in June of 2020 found that the average adult will spend 44 years of their life staring at a screen. That breaks down to:
- Up to 4.5 hours on TVs
- Nearly 5 hours on laptops
- Over 3 hours using gaming devices
- Nearly 4.5 hrs on smartphones
And even more than that, the trend line on screen time for kids and adults has only moved up and to the right with the pandemic. So yes, starting with screens can have a huge impact on your year!
Second, we know more than ever that wellness is about more than exercise and eating right. As a nation we’re facing an unprecedented mental health crisis and - while it’s certainly not the only factor - there’s a growing understanding that our relationship with screens and social media is part of the problem. Pursuing health and wellness in 2022 means assessing both physical and mental patterns and habits for things that can help us to thrive.
A few reminders about making and keeping resolutions
If you’re still saying to yourself “but who likes resolutions??” its a valid question. However, the problem with resolutions is most often not the practice of making resolutions but how people make them.
As life coach Sandra McDermit told CNBC in an interview, sometimes we “risk trying to do too much and not getting any of it.”
So what’s a better, less stressful way to approach resolutions? Here are a few ideas:
- Get reflective about your resolutions: The worst kind of resolutions are ones that aren’t actually yours. They’re someone else’s or something you heard that you feel you “should” do. Spend a little time reflecting on what matters most to you and stick to simple resolutions that flow from that place.
- Be realistic with resolutions: The fastest path to a failed resolution is picking an unrealistic goal. Here’s a great mental exercise to try: imagine your perfect goal and outcome. Then, ask yourself what would it look like to achieve some of that or just make notable progress. Try thinking about goals in stages and prioritize what’s really achievable.
- Think about practices and small steps, not just big goals: It can be easy to get focused on big, lofty goals when making resolutions, but often what matters most are daily practices. If you’re aiming for less screen time this year, instead of just setting a number on it, think of a practice instead. No phones at the kitchen table (kids and parents); only two nights of TV shows a week. As they say (kind of) practices make perfect!
- Have lots and lots (and lots) grace with yourself: Underline this one. And one more time again for the folks in the back! Because it’s probably the hardest, but most important too. When it comes to resolutions in general, there’s no such thing as perfect and failing is just the natural, messy outcome of trying to move in the right direction. So pat yourself on the back for being brave enough to try!
Three Digital Wellness Resolutions That Might Just Change Your Life
So now that we know the WHY and the HOW of our resolutions, let’s see what they are! Again, there’s no magic bullet, but trust us - these three simple practices truly can have a life changing impact on your family and in your home. They’re aimed at being grace-filled, flexible, but intentional. So let’s dive in!
1) Resolve to make tech use more intentional in your home
Parents often feel that tech is an all or nothing game. Open the flood gates to everything or lock it down. This year, try gauging tech and screen time by the purpose more than the amount. Try asking yourself and your kids if their screen use does one of these three things:
- Helps Learning
- Enhances relationships & connection
- Fuels activity
If tech helps you and your kids learn, connect, and stay active, then it’s helping your wellness overall. Mindless scrolling and distraction? That’s a different story.
When it comes to kids, this is why we’re so excited about kids smart watches and kids smartphones. Tech that’s truly, thoughtfully designed for kids can be amazing and intentional tools that guide kids toward habits and mindsets that put tech in the right place.
2) Resolve to give tech and screen time clear limits
You’ll notice this one doesn’t come with a number. There simply is no “right” answer to how much screen time is too much. Each family and each day are different. However, that doesn’t mean limits are useless! Try thinking of specific screen time guidelines for your family around these three areas:
And here’s an extra tip! Before you simply set these rules yourself, try asking your kids for their input. Consider making it a family pact with everyone’s buy in. Giving the whole family ownership can turn a battle into something that builds family culture.
3) Resolve to make technology part of an ongoing conversation
This one can’t be said enough. Like anything that’s an important part of our lives, it needs to be talked about. Try asking your spouse questions about how they are feeling about tech. Be curious with your kids about what they like and don’t like in their digital world. Building a habit of talking about tech makes a world of difference that helps everyone stay connected. Really connected.
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Want to join a community of fellow parents and guardians working together toward digital wellness? Then follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tell us what kind of resolutions you’re working toward this year!