The trick is to downsize – not demolish – your family’s reliance on technology over the holidays

What’s topping your kids’ holiday wish lists this year? Chances are it includes a screen, Internet access, and games. With a little planning – and kids’ assistance – you can balance your family’s tech activities with much-needed face time.

Here’s how:

Be jolly, but firm

Let your kids know that you’ll be enforcing stricter time limits to create more quality family time. And tell them that the rules will apply to the grown-ups as well. Use your phone’s built-in features (Screen Time in iOS 12 and Digital Wellbeing in Android Pie) to determine how much time you’re spending online and which apps you use the most – and pare back where you can.

Make a list (and check it with your kids)

Don’t go cold turkey. Schedule some daily tech time for yourself and your kids. Get their input on which devices they absolutely can’t live without, and allow some limited use. If their apps have settings that help curb use, such as the ones on Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat, then by all means, enable them.

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Plan device-free dinners

Put the phones and tablets in a basket and don’t check them til the dishes are done.

Have a download derby

Browse the app store together. Look for games and activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as the ones on our our best app lists.

Make set-up fun, not frustrating

No matter how easy to use companies make new devices, there’s always some (often frustrating) set-up time. Truth be told, kids often work out thorny tech glitches faster than parents, so involve your kids in the process. Use that time to discuss responsible use of the new device.

Try some tech togetherness

Unplugging for its own sake isn’t the point. Family time is. Plan a night of video games, movies or maybe preselected YouTube videos that you can all enjoy together.

Combine on- and offline activities

Document your family memories and consider compiling them into journals, cards and scrapbooks. This is a perfect time to share your own holiday memories with your kids.

If no creatures are stirring… don’t check your email

Remember, your kids learn their media habits partly from you. Use quiet time to reflect on ways you can maximise the benefits of technology without letting it take over your family life.

Have an old-fashioned holiday

Challenge your family to choose low- or no-tech versions of favourite activities. Generate fun on your own steam – no WiFi, data or plugs.

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