It can be overwhelming to try to tackle unhealthy tech. Where do we even start? 

The research is often unbelievable (teens spend NINE hours a day on tech?!) and leaves us feeling crippled with indecision. Add into the mix having these conversations and implementing these plans with actual people who live in your home, some of whom are volatile teenagers— well, good luck and good riddance!

 It’s easier to stick our heads down and keep scrolling on our own phones lest we disturb the beast when we bid them good evening and get chastised with “Chill, Mom. Just chill.”

We want to offer you some tips for re-establishing healthy tech in your home. In the words of Bob Wiley—  “Baby steps.” We don’t have to become Amish overnight, but we do need to occasionally re-assess, sometimes pull back, and perhaps tighten the reins. 

Like other created things, tech has the potential to be both a tool and a distraction. As parents, it’s our job to help our families navigate that fine line. When used in its proper place, tech is a helpful tool. But when tech can quickly jump from tool to distraction to detriment. 

Remember: re-establishing tech norms can quickly become personal and heated. Calling someone out on their overuse often feels like an attack because tech can hold a tight grip on our hearts. It’s uncomfortable to have those tendrils removed. 

Approach this conversation with your people from a posture of humility. Use “we” more than “you.” 

And if you need more support, or want to dig a little deeper into this conversation, check out our RESET assessment guide, “How to Make a Family Tech Policy,” and/or “A Step-by-Step Walkthrough: Making a Family Tech Framework.” 

With that said, here are some (relatively) easy wins to reclaim tech use in your home:

Model the behavior you want to see. 

Before you go calling out the iPhone-sized speck in your son’s eye, consider first the iMac in your own. 

Throughout his ministry, we see Jesus model his teachings. He didn’t simply command his followers to love one another— he got down and washed their feet. 

If we make demands of our children we aren’t willing to obey ourselves, our directives will fall on deaf ears. Healthy tech starts with you, Mom and Dad.

Healthy tech starts with you, Mom and Dad.

Reclaim the dinner hour. 

Maybe phones and screens are out in your house all day long. And maybe for valid reasons. But one place to start pushing back on 24-hour tech is the dinner hour.

Family meals offer a multitude of benefits, one being that “Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them” (The Washington Post). 

In a tech-saturated world that greatly contributes to the rise of anxiety and depression among teens, family dinner is a means of God’s grace that offers respite to weary souls.

Remove phones from the bedroom. 

The research on how phones impact our sleep is staggering. Sleep impacts every bodily system and when we allow it to be interrupted, we increase our risk for poor academic performance, negative changes in behavior and mood, and depression (

Ideally, the bedroom should be a tech-free zone. But for the sake of baby steps, start with leaving your phone charging on the kitchen counter tonight.

The heart of the matter

The real message here is this: we, as parents, are called to disciple our children in all matters of heart and life— tech included. And there are some real and simple ways we can do that. But if our concern stops at behavior modification, we’re missing the point. 

It might be irritating that your son can’t step away from his Xbox or your daughter texts all the livelong day—but we need to dig a little deeper and consider why.

Why is it frustrating? And why are they spending their time in this way? 

Our tech use is often an indicator of our heart posture. If we can’t step away from a game or show, or we are constantly updating our status and checking in on comments, the issue isn’t too much tech time; the issue is that we’re looking for something from screens that only Christ can give us. 

In all our work as parents, may we show our kids that Jesus is indeed better.