Learn how to set technology boundaries for yourself and your children when it is taking over your life and home. Plus get 160 unique ideas for boundaries!
Something in you is saying, “this is not the life I want.”
You wile away more time than you mean to on social media, watching TV shows, or browsing the internet. This leaves you behind on housework, irritated with your children, and tired from staying up too late.
I know because I’ve been there.
However, the good news is, your life doesn’t have to be this way. Technology is not your boss. You get to tell it what to do, not the other way around. You are not a victim of your smartphone, and with God’s help, you can start taking steps towards living a self-controlled life today.
God is too good and life is too short to live it distracted by meaningless things. And yet, if we added up all the time we waste entertaining ourselves via technology, it would be sad. Because at the end of our lives we will have nothing to show for all that time spent.
One proactive thing we can do when technology is taking over our lives and homes is to set a firm and realistic boundary for ourselves (and/or for our children).
With the mix-and-match, build-your-own boundary system I’ve created below, there are 140 different possible technology boundaries. That’s a lot of information and opportunity!
However, rather than revamping your entire life in one fell swoop, I would encourage you to choose a single boundary to implement this month. Then, once you’ve implemented that boundary and honed it over time to fit your needs, come back to choose a second boundary to set as needed (you can pin this post to your Pinterest account for easy reference here).
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and retraining our brains and habits won’t happen overnight. Don’t be afraid to start with something simple and attainable.
Mix and match Technology Boundaries!
Go through the follow five steps in sequence to create a boundary that will address the specific needs of your home. Even if you see multiple issues that you want to address in your life, try to choose just one to start.
With all of the mix-and-match options listed below, there are 160 different, customized boundaries you could walk away with!
Step 1: Determine who the boundary is for
- Is this boundary for you?
- Is it for your children?
If you’re not sure, let me advise you, rein in your own excessive technology habits first, before you start working with your children.
Also, don’t expect your children to acknowledge boundaries that you are not willing to acknowledge in your own life.
As parents, it’s okay to help our kids learn time management and self discipline through the instatement of healthy boundaries. It’s also okay to protect them from unwholesome influences while they’re in our care.
If we do a good job at casting vision for the “why” (not to deprive them, but to enrich their lives), they will be more likely to experience our love through the boundaries we set rather than store up resentment. Don’t forget to cast the vision! Take some time to consider why setting healthy technology boundaries is important for life.
Step 2: Identify what in particular is taking over your home
What will you tackle first?
Step 2: Choose your boundary
Now you must figure out exactly what boundary you will set. This should be HIGHLY specific. “Scroll Facebook less” will not result in a changed life. “Only check Facebook once a day, in the evening, from 8:00 pm –8:45 pm” will set you free if you have the self-control to stick with it.
- No _________ after a certain time each evening. (i.e. after dinner, after the kids are in bed, after 9pm, etc.)
- Disconnect _________ from your smartphone to make it less readily available (i.e. email or an app).
- Only use ___________ for a certain amount of time each day. (See ideas below for how to enforce this)
- No __________ on Sunday. (Learn more about creating an intentional Sabbath rest day here.)
- Get rid of ___________ all together! (Read why we got rid of our TV this year and how it’s going.)
- Check/use __________ only once or twice per day at __________ (list a time or point in the day).
- No ____________ while the kids are awake.
- No ____________ at a specific location (such as the dinner table, bedroom, upstairs, basement, date night, office, etc.)
Step 3: Determine how you will enforce your boundary
Because this is not going to be easy, we need to have a specific plan for how we will enforce our boundary (or otherwise ensure that we actually acknowledge the boundary we’ve set).
Here are a few ideas that might help you stick with your plan!
- Charge your phone in the kitchen rather than on your nightstand.
- Utilize a device that enforces your boundaries when self-control slips such as Circle with Disney. (Such a help, for adults as much as children!)
- Put your smartphone in a designated area rather than in your pocket (i.e. leave it on the kitchen counter).
- Disable internet and certain time-wasting apps on your phone so you will be forced to use a computer. The act of sitting down at a computer is self-limiting.
- Set an alarm while you peruse social media.
- Tell your children your objective and ask them to hold you accountable! This works wonders. 🙂
Step 4: Get accountability
On the note of accountability, it is good to share your new boundary with someone in your life who can help you stay on track. When you tell your spouse or roommate or children your plan, your commitment to the boundary and incentive to follow through increase exponentially!
We want to be perceived as self-controlled by others, so we should leverage that natural inclination to motivate us.
I recently set a new boundary for myself. I decided I would no longer spend time browsing my smartphone after the kids went to bed at night, which was an unproductive habit I identified in my own life. Instead I would exercise, read the Bible, and go to bed early. I shared this with my husband and asked for his help.
Now, when I catch myself sliding into old ways unintentionally, I immediately set my phone aside and exclaim, “I was doing it again!” It’s been nice to have his support and to be able to process my journey, not to mention the reminders he kindly gives me.
Step 5: Implement your boundary!
Try your new boundary for one month. You’re not committing to never watch Netflix again, you’re just trying something for a trail period. After a month, you will have experienced what life is like without ________. I’m guessing you’ll feel a rewarding sense of freedom and accomplishment. You can then decide what would be best moving forward, either adapt, drop or continue with the boundary you set.
Put that reevaluate date on your calendar! This makes your boundary a time-bound goal.