Tech Resolutions for Families for the New Year

Written by PTC | Published January 3, 2024

Like many families, yours may be entering this new year with brand new tech devices, given or received over the Christmas holiday. According to one survey, almost 199 million adults in the United States planned to buy tech products and services as presents during the last holiday season. Among the most popular tech gifts were video game consoles (46 million), smartphones (50 million), and streaming or download services (59 million).

New tech devices can be engrossing -- especially for a child or teen suddenly in possession of their very own smartphone, tablet or video game console for the very first time -- and can become addictive. They are also strongly associated with mental health challenges in young people. Which is why it’s important to establish firm ground-rules and parameters around their use right off the bat.

So here I’d like to offer Five Tech Resolutions for families. I encourage you to consider adopting as many of these as make sense for your family in this New Year.

  1. Establish Tech-Free Zones and Times: Encourage quality family time by designating certain areas or times as tech-free zones. For example, consider having no phones at the dinner table or designating specific rooms as device-free to foster more face-to-face communication.
  2. Dial-it Back: Maybe your child already has a tech device and you’re not comfortable with how much time they are spending on the device, or maybe you wish you’d waited a little longer before giving them that phone or tablet computer. That doesn’t mean that it’s too late to establish some rules around usage, like no phones in the bedroom, no social media, or phones have to be turned-in to mom or dad at a specific time every day.
  3. Practice Digital Wellness: Promote healthy tech habits by setting limits on screen time for both parents and children. Use tools and apps that allow you to monitor and manage screen time, ensuring that everyone in the family has a healthy balance between online and offline activities.
  4. Cybersecurity Awareness: Educate your family about online safety and cybersecurity. Make sure everyone understands the importance of strong, unique passwords, the dangers of sharing personal information online, how to identify and avoid phishing scams, and not to talk to anyone online that they don’t know in the real world.
  5. Whenever Possible, Make Screen Time a Family Activity: One reason why technology can lead to mental health challenges is because it tends to isolate the user. We’re not saying to avoid technology altogether, but we do need to be intentional about its use. Whenever possible, look for ways to share these tools and technologies together as a family. Watch streamed programs together in a central part of the house. If your child received a video game console for Christmas, look for games that the family can play together. This not only makes screen time more productive but also turns it into a shared, positive experience.

Implementing these tech resolutions can contribute to a healthier and more balanced use of technology within the family, so that families can thrive. And after all, isn’t that what really matters?

Take Action. Stay Informed.