The pledge starts with a simple and powerful affirmation that you are in control.
The statement "technology is a tool" reinforces that your phone should serve your needs and make your life better. Smartphones have become embedded in our lives. Many of the apps that come pre-installed are tools. They include maps, calendars, tasks, weather trackers, a flashlight, and camera. Some of the apps we download are also tools: banking apps, work tools, recipes, etc. The majority of the apps on phones are really for entertainment, and are sometimes used for communication with other people.
The statement 'when and how' is another way of saying use technology intentionally. An intentional use would be 'I am going to spend 15 minutes checking in on my friends' even if it's for entertainment. An example of the opposite is when you get 'sucked into a feed.' Perhaps you open Facebook to see what a friend posted, but then you notice a red dot above your groups...what do you do? Do you need to see what's going on in the groups or not? This is where your phone can be less about you and more about addictive apps stealing little fragments of your time and attention.
Prioritize my real life over my digital one
This may seem obvious, yet it's amazing how often you see people together in public spaces staring at their phones. This is practically expected for teens. Prioritizing real life is building relationships with people you know and spending time experiencing the real world.
Be mindful of why and how often I use tech
Start tracking your social media and gaming usage. How often are you actually checking notifications and browsing social media feeds? The numbers might alarm you. Try to turn off all unnecessary notifications and be more mindful each time you pick up your phone. What are you really trying to accomplish online?
Limit social media/gaming to two hours or less per day
Social media and gaming have been shown in studies to release significant dopamine to the brain. Read this article from Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, author of 'Glow Kids' for a quick summary. Additionally, Dr. Jean Twenge found a large spike in depression when going from one to three hours per day.
Science isn't perfect, but we believe two hours per day is a happy balance of enough but not too much. Many parents may consider this to be too much and might ask you to commit to a lesser amount of time in your family technology agreement.
Observe screen-free times, places, & settings
Having a few basic ground rules can help keep technology addiction in check. You and your family will get used to not having those blocks (phones) always in your pockets.
Times- it's essential to have a curfew where personal devices aren't used from an hour before bed time until a reasonable wake up time in the morning. Some people will choose other times such as one night or day off per week or during school hours.
Places- it's highly recommended to keep personal devices out of kids bedrooms. Another common off-limit place for phones is the table (all meals).
Settings- when you are hanging out with a group of people, keep your device usage to an absolute minimum. Be present while at restaurants and everywhere else you go to socialize.
Follow the golden rule online
Cyberbullying can often be more emotionally severe than in-person bullying. There are many contributing factors. The cyberbully can't see the victim's emotions, the victim can't walk away nor defend himself or herself easily, and cyberbullying can play out online in front of dozens or hundreds of peers.
It's essential that everyone follows the golden rule online just like they would in person.
Remove sources of negativity
Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. Get the point? Social media is fake and you shouldn't compare yourself to others.