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Less is more when it comes to technology in 2022

Screen time and technology can have positive effects on children in terms of schoolwork and access to knowledge, but it’s time we address the downsides.

elementary school students with smartphones
Since the pandemic, studies have shown a 93.6% increase in digital devices, more time at home and less time away from screens. iStock / Special to On the Minds of Moms
dolgachov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some days, I long to raise kids in yesteryear. Not the yesteryears of my ancestors in a sod house on the prairie; the yesteryears of the 1980s or 90s would suffice.

Even a few years ago seems like a simpler time to raise kids. Since the pandemic, studies have shown a 93.6% increase in digital devices, more time at home and less time away from screens. That’s all of us, not just our kids. 2022 seems like the time to change this dangerous trend.

We don’t need to be in agreement on how and what it looks like. I am adamant we need more parenting, less screen time and more interaction with our kids this year and in the future.

It starts at home. Screen time and technology can have positive effects on children in terms of schoolwork and access to knowledge, but it’s time we address the downsides. This is coming from a mom who works in media and speaks often about positive ways to implement social media storytelling from our farms and across agriculture to connect with non-ag audiences.

I feel an urgency to make changes when I read and observe the changes in kids.

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School activities participation? Dropping across the U.S. Why not bring it back and enhance our kids' sense of belonging and school engagement with school activities?

Mental health issues, behavior disorders, depression and anxiety? Increasing. Is it all on us as parents or guardians? No. Give yourself grace. But we can create boundaries and standards at home. Additionally, seek professional help and support.

The dark, negative effects on our children are being addressed by many groups and organizations. Parents and guardians need to step up at home for that work to be most effective. Rural and urban — it takes all of us.

As a parent, I’d like to raise teenagers with limited technology and access to screens, which is a much easier sentence to type than to put into action.

My best friend used to say our family was the last family in North Dakota to get a VCR and the last to get an answering machine. Our first cell phone was in a bag. My kids wouldn’t know how to operate any of them today.

If I could bring back the cell phone in a big bag in one family vehicle and a landline telephone at home only, I would for this year. Instead, we have a stash of digital devices.

While I am not ditching all the digital devices, more boundaries are in place in our home, for all of us. I just gave myself six weeks of no social media apps on my phone for a reset and pause. 2022 social media use for me looks different, too.

Our adult son thanked me recently for being the "no video games" enforcer mom. He lives on his own now, 1,800 miles from our home. He has no gaming console and makes his own adult decisions. His comment gave me a bit of encouragement that parenting efforts pay off in ways we won’t know. And yes, it is perfectly OK for our adult children to have video games in their home. It’s just he didn’t agree with me 10 years ago and now does.

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Stick to your rules even if your kids don’t agree. Your rules won’t look like your friends and neighbors. Do not compare. You know what is best for your family. Less screen time, limited or no social media, no video games, whatever you choose. Maybe it’s more board and card games as a family, puzzles in the evenings, or outings to local events together. You set the tone and standard for your family and home. If you don’t like the direction your kids are going in their technology use, you own it. Change it.

Raise your kids like it’s a good slice of your childhood. Less is more in 2022.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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