7 Steps for Families to Manage Smartphones

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

After posting my blog, 9 Steps to Making Your Smart Phone Your Tool... Not the Other Way Around, I got a lot of questions about HOW to do this with your kids and family.


Here’s my short list for families on how to start managing phone use at home:


1. Awareness is always the best first step. Learn precisely how much everyone is currently using their phones by setting up automatic screen time tracking for everyone in your family. Use iPhone Screen Time, Android’s Dashboard, or similar app.


2. Meet regularly to review screen time. Make conversation around, “How much time you were on Snapchat?” or other apps/social media platforms. With multiple kids, create a contest to see who has the least. Include yourself, although you might have to compare their Snapchat screen time to another app you frequently use.


3. Set automatic time limits/reminders for particular apps tailored to each person’s screen time; agree on “downtime” for when the phone turns into a brick at night.


4. Adjust all of your notification settings together. Turn off ALL notifications from ALL apps, including banner notifications. Plan to live with it like this for a week. Meet again, and if desired, consciously choose one or two apps to allow notifications. But know why you want those notifications. To learn more about why you want to turn off your notifications, check out my other blog, Who’s the Tool? You or Your Smartphone, and order a copy of Catherine Price's How to Break Up with Your Phone.


5. Create a centralized charging station in the kitchen or wherever your family hangs out. Put phones there at night. Every night. And periodically throughout the day. By getting the phone (and smartwatch) physically away from your body, you’ll have a fighting chance to not respond to every unconscious impulse to check it, touch it, engage with it.


6. Have a “NO phones in bedrooms” rule for everyone (unless you need to keep your phone nearby for emergencies). This means you need to go back to old-school alarm clocks. Spend a few bucks on Amazon and get an alarm clock for every member of your family. You’ll love that you made this investment.


7. Last rule: No phones when watching TV. Pick ONE screen at a time. That’s it. Phones go back to your family’s central charging station (or what I like to call, “phone jail”). Not in anyone’s pocket. Not visible on the coffee table. Not nestled coyly between couch cushions.


Try these 7 steps. I am fairly certain you will be psyched. But let me know how it goes.


Other blogs possibly of interest:

I love getting your messages, even if you think I’m bonkers. Talk to me. School me if you think I need it. Maybe I’ll write about it.

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© 2020 by Dan Simons

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