Digital Well-Being Guidelines for Parents During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this unprecedented time, technology has become part of the social fabric in a deeper, more intimate way than ever before—for those of us able to access it, technology has been a social lifeline. Unfortunately, our increased reliance on technology doesn’t diminish the challenges and dangers it poses.
We offer the guidelines below in the hope that they will help parents who are feeling overwhelmed trying to navigate the amount of technology used in our children’s lives, and in our own. To make technology more of a tool for well-being, rather than a hindrance.
It is also important to remember that many of these products are actually not on your side. The social media platforms that many parents and children use everyday profit by keeping us scrolling, clicking, and watching. The result is a system that creates addiction, self-obsession, misinformation, and content that outrages and polarizes. Children are experiencing some of the worst effects of this broken attention economy.
For years, the Center for Humane Technology (CHT) has been working to create the conditions for more humane technology that supports well-being, connection, democracy, and shared truth.
Until this is achieved, we offer the guidelines below in the hope that they will be helpful to you and your family.
🧘♀️ Feel Into It
Let’s be aware of not just our use, but how technology makes us feel. Learn More
🧠 Be “Why’s”
Make an effort to use technology as a tool instead of an end in itself. When using technology, let’s communicate the “why” to our children and ask them to communicate theirs. Learn More
📱 All Screen-Time Is Not Equal
The tools that measure our screen-time consider all screen-time equal, but what’s happening on the screen is much more relevant than the screen itself. Learn More
💻 Remember, Tech is a Trade
What are we trading for convenience and/or connectivity? Learn More
🏃 Get Proactive
Tech is not neutral. It is vying for our attention and is very good at grabbing and holding it. Learn More
🌱 Choose the “Right” Tech
Some digital environments are more conducive to what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re trying to act than others. Learn More
👧 Protect Developing Brains
We are using and relying on technology more than we ever dreamed we would, but it’s important to remember that children’s brains are still developing and can literally be shaped by technology and media. Learn More
🤔 Be Skeptical
While staying indoors during COVID-19, it’s natural for our tech time to increase. But it is still helpful to approach tech, especially free social media products, with a skeptical attitude because money is being made somehow. Learn More
During COVID, parents have a difficult balancing act between so many different challenging and stressful variables. Better understanding our family’s intentions using technology, evaluating the trade-offs, and being informed on alternatives are important ways to keep our sanity and create healthier tech use now and in the future.
If you’re looking for more resources on how to do this, we have some additional materials available at humanetech.com/parents-students.
Be well, and be gentle with yourselves!
The CHT Team
Special thanks for feedback and additions to these guidelines: Jenny Radesky, MD; Jen Libby MSW, LCSW; and Susan Linn, ED.D., Author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving play in a commercialized world, and Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.