The unGlue Philosophy is based on four core principles that we believe form the foundation for healthy screen time use for families. The philosophy is the result of our own extensive research, advice from experts and scientists, and discussions we have had with thousands of families — each with very different circumstances, but all struggling to deal with pervasive technology in their lives. Our approach is also based on common sense parenting practices that we consider to be healthy and helpful for all aspects of family life, not just for screen addiction.
As with other challenges our kids face, we want them to be on board with any solution that we have for them. We should never force our ideas and systems upon them. Instead, we should seek to have open conversations with our children and take their opinions into account. Usage of electronic devices and the internet should follow the same principle. Making a unilateral decision that an hour of screen time is enough without even asking for input is a mistake. Kids are ok with limits, but they do want to be part of the conversation. You don’t have to agree with what they want, but at least you’ll know how far apart you are. A good solution should allow kids to voice their opinions and allow parents to consider this feedback before making a decision.
Technology is not bad. The internet is not bad. Devices are not bad. Social media is not bad (and if you think it is, disallow it!), and watching videos online is not bad. However, social media, watching videos, and playing video games is addictive by design and spending hours and hours hooked on these things IS bad. The challenge is creating a balance between those hard-to-stop, addictive activities and more useful online activities such as doing homework, researching, learning, listening to music, and even playing educational games. A good solution should enable parents to easily create different schedules: one for addictive activities like spending time on social media, watching videos, and playing games, and one for anything else.
Like any other aspect of parenting, our goal is to teach self-reliance. Our role as parents is to guide our children so they learn how to do things on their own, rather than simply doing it for them. Helping our kids learn basic time management skills so they can start managing their own time is critical in today’s hyper changing world. Our kids need to be the driver of any time management solution while we mentor and support from the passenger seat. After all, it is their issue that we are solving. A good solution should empower our kids to learn how to manage their own time, with our guidance and within our boundaries.
It is not enough to talk the talk, we also need to walk the walk. We shouldn’t ask our kids to eat healthy while we gorge on junk food. It’s the same way with technology. Reading emails at the dinner table, texting while driving, zoning out on too much Netflix, or spending way too much time on Facebook is sending the wrong message. A good solution should allow you to lead by example by following the same rules on the same platform that you’re asking your kids to use.