There’s no doubt that mobile phones, tablets, computers and the Internet make accessing and sharing information a lot easier. From pop culture trends, politics and sports updates, to breaking news and social networks, there’s an awful lot of information out there, and trying to stay on top of it all can be overwhelming. If everyone in the family is connected to their devices—are they really connected to each other?
If you think your email inbox is overloaded, take a look at some of these numbers:
• 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.
• 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
• More than 190 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day.
It’s not just adults trying to consume all that information. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that kids 8 to 18 years old average more than 7 1/2 hours a day using digital media. And they spend a lot of that time using more than one digital medium simultaneously, so they end up packing 10 hours, 45 minutes worth of media content into that 7 1/2 hours.
So how can you get the information you want while also turning down the noise?
Tips for Managing Your Media
“Internet and digital devices aren’t going away,” says Kinsey Schofield, pop culture maven and social media strategist. “They’re only going to become more prominent. The trick is to find ways to manage your time and the information effectively. When you do that, you’ll have less stress and more time for some fun together.”
Set Internet Limits — For Everyone
With so much information and social connections available in an instant, it’s tempting to spend too much time in the digital world. But when you do that, says Kinsey, you miss out on things happening in the real world.
• For kids, set time limits on their electronics usage. They can earn time by doing chores, for good behavior, or as rewards for good grades. Keep track of time with stickers, beads or even candy.
• Adults should lead by example. Set aside a specified chunk of time to deal with emails, social media check-ins or catching up on the latest celebrity news, for example. Designate meal times as “device-free” zones, and make a point of letting your kids see you setting aside your devices.
• As a family, make a list of Internet house rules. Include the types of sites that are acceptable and those that are off limits, time allowed on the Internet, and guidelines for sharing information online.
Monitor Mobile Usage
A lot of time is spent on the phone — and most of it isn’t actually talking.
• “Just looking at your data usage each month can be a wake-up call,” says Kinsey. Go through your monthly statement as a family so you can see exactly how much time you are spending connected. This can help you determine reasonable limits on texting, Web browsing, game playing and consuming music.
• Most mobile data plans have parental controls available that will let you limit when kids can text or call, filter Web browsing, block picture messaging and block unknown phone numbers. This can help you put some limits on when your kids can go online, and keep them safer while doing so.