Are you teaching your kids healthy phone habits? Or better yet...If you gave your kids a smartphone today, would you be proud of the habits they learned by watching you?
This one is for all the parents with young kids who don't have phones yet. You may be thinking it is not something you need to worry about until your kids are older and of "phone age", which we all know is getting younger and younger. Like it or not, your kids learn from everything you do, including how you interact with your phone. Take the toy phone. Was the toy phone even a thing before the iPhone? My 4-year-old and 2-year-old each have toy phones now and use them like mom and dad - texting, making calls, face timing grandparents, working, and fortunately for us, putting them away in Aro. They aren't using the toy phone because it's cool. They are using the toy phone because that is what mom and dad do. Seeing this made my wife and I very aware that they are going to pick up on the good and bad tech habits we teach them, so we are focused on modeling good behaviors and leading by example.
It's starts with simple things like no phones at the dinner table, keeping our phones in Aro when we are home, not glancing at our phone during a conversation, etc. These practical things start to show them that our phones are tools that do some pretty awesome stuff, but they don't control us.
Here are some things I’ve learned so far that helped us and can hopefully help you and your kids.
Learn from other parents
Screen time is the #1 battleground in households today. Every parent has tips and tricks for managing tech in their home. Learn from each other. For example, I learned that an Aro customer was handing her phone to her young child and asking her to put it in Aro. I quickly adopted that and it’s an activity both my kids love. They get to participate in Aro, and it’s a signal to them that dad is totally present with them.
No matter how young your kids are, you can start teaching them healthy phone habits. This is very much a “do as I do” approach. They are watching and learning from you. It starts way before they even start asking for a phone.
Your kids will start to hold you accountable
Once you model healthy phone habits to your kids, they will be quick to point out when you aren’t. This is a good thing.
It gets easier
Being away from your phone can be weird at first. Trust me. Try putting it away in a drawer for a few hours to see how it feels. Over time it has become much easier for me, and now I feel a sense of relief and relaxation when I put my phone away. By the way, I used to get that same sense of relief when I picked up my phone and started scrolling.
None of these are things we need Aro to be able to do. You can do them today. At a minimum, it takes effort to be intentional and aware of how we act around our kids and what we teach them. We realized we weren’t being very intentional and aware until we got Aro. Aro holds us accountable, reminds us to be present, and makes the whole thing easier and more fun.
It will be years before my wife and I will deal with the stresses that come with giving our kids a smartphone, but I am confident that the decision will be much less stressful because of the habits we are teaching them today. I’ve averaged 3.5 hours of “Aro Time” each day for the last 6 months. Over the course of a year, that’s 53 days of quality, uninterrupted time with my family. I’m very proud of what my kids are learning from that.