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How to help your kids break the screen habit

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Less technology, more balance

Your kids are just like you: They love technology. Between cell phones, video games, laptops and any number of devices, they are connected. They are digital natives. A world without technology is unthinkable. But perhaps they could use a little time away from those screens. How do you break the screen habit with your kids?

Less technology, more balance

The amount of technology in our lives is only increasing -- and that means we need to work even harder at helping our kids find a balance between screen life and real life. We need to set guidelines and lead by example to help our kids understand the role of technology in a balanced life.

Think beyond the screen

We all depend on technology. Screens are integral to more and more aspects of our day-to-day, hour-to-hour lives, from work, to school, to... everything. It's time to think beyond the screen, to seek screen balance. How can you and your family not use a screen today?

Set parental controls

Parental controls are an easy way to limit screen time. From the family computer to the digital video player to the cable modem, devices and software are available to limit access in time, duration and content. Use these tools to your family's benefit.

Set technology-free zones

Although keeping technology in public family spaces is one way to help prevent abuse of technology, set some technology-free zones in your home. The dining room or bedrooms are appropriate places to limit technology. You want to talk to each other at dinner, not text each other!

Plan screen-free activities

Plan kid and family activities that require everyone to put down the devices and step away from the 'net. Even the most technologically adept child will find it difficult to text while playing soccer or on a bike ride with the family. When you go on a family outing agree that all screens get locked in the glove compartment of the car -- including yours.

Lead by example

Be a role model:

Let your kids see you consult a map before a car ride instead of the GPS. Let them see you sit in the family room with the television off, talking instead of watching.

As much as your whole family loves technology, let your kids see you not using it. Let them see you consult a map before a car ride instead of the GPS. Let them see you sit in the family room with the television off, talking instead of watching. Let them see you play solitaire with real cards. Let them see you do something you can't do with technology, such as plant seeds or knit a scarf. Let your kids see there is more to life than screen life.

Technology is here to stay -- and it's a great thing! Teaching your kids about using it in balance is critical -- and tricky. Helping your kids break the screen habit so technology is a tool instead of a crutch can lead to a richer, more balanced life for all of you.

More on kids and technology

Travel with kids: Take technology?
Kids and technology: Age appropriate guide
Tech-savvy or teen foolish?

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