How to Help Kids Control Their Phones
By Sandy Schroeder
Teaching kids how to handle phones without becoming hooked on them is important for their health and well-being. Teaching them how to get the benefits minus the tricks requires parental monitoring and advice from people like Tristan Harris, senior fellow at Common Sense.
Spotting Phone Tricks
Harris says a lot of todayâ€™s phone designs are created to keep us on our phones. Here are his suggestions to help kids work around the tricks.
Simplify the home screen - Limit the home screen to maps, calendar and email, plus any other daily tools. Put games and recipes into folders or move them to a second or third screen. When everything is on the home screen a lot of time can be wasted. Keep an eye on how kids use their phones.
Trade colors for grayscale - Brightly colored apps push our reward buttons to make us feel good. Choose muted colors to make the phone less inviting. Go to Settings, General, Accessibility, Display Accommodations. Turn on color filters and go to grayscale. Make sure the phone does not become one more toy.
Restrict notifications to people - Most notifications are sent by machines and they are used to pull us into a specific app. Go to phone settings and turn off everything except the messaging apps or other tools that you use.
Move social media off the phone - Facebook and Instagram can be limited to computer use. When they are on a phone they make the time an attractive toy that wastes a lot of time.
Type in apps - Tapping is done automatically, but typing in the name gives the brain time to decide if another game should be played.
Keep phones out of the bedroom - Charge phones outside of the bedroom and avoid using them as alarms. Phones can create havoc with restful sleep routines.
Discover the helpful apps - Harris suggests Appleâ€™s Night Shift to reduce the stimulating blue light of the phone. Moment, InboxWhen Ready and Freedom are also useful tools to help kids cut through the digital maze.
Keeping phones in check is one more task that parents need to do to keep kids safe. Decide where your kids are with their phones and then take steps to monitor what happens next. If you start them out right, the phone can be a great way for the two of you to stay in touch. Do whatever it takes to keep it that way as you help them avoid the digital traps.
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