Stock photo | Photo by SeventyFour/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News
CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Spring is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to hit the refresh button. Both parents and kids have spent long hours in front of a screen working, learning and staying connected over the past year as families adjust to a “new normal.”
“With the pandemic, we’ve spent so much time online, probably more than we ever have in our lives,” said Catherine Larson, director of marketing for InfoWest. “It’s kind of getting to us, and I think a lot of parents and families are experiencing the same thing.”
More time on digital devices means more opportunities for kids to be exposed to inappropriate content and potential hazards, Larson said. It’s important for parents to openly discuss the risks that come with using the internet and model safe behaviors with their own online activity.
Having a healthy relationship with technology is key to navigating today’s world. As Southern Utah’s “Internet People,” the experts at InfoWest suggest three easy ways for parents to help kids stay safe online during spring break and beyond.
Create shared accounts on social media that all family members use
This option allows parents to keep an eye on what kids are sharing and who they’re communicating with. Parents can monitor their friends list to watch for possible threats.
Remind kids of the dangers of being online
It’s also important to encourage kids to talk about any concerns. Especially at a younger age, kids can be naïve and tricked by predators. Whether they’re encountering cyberbullying, sexting or a stranger asking them to meet, they should feel empowered to say “no” to any online activity that makes them uncomfortable.
“They just need to know that it’s okay and what they feel is legitimate,” Larson said. “If we are our children’s protectors, they feel they can come to us.”
Install safeguards to protect kids while browsing
InfoWest offers the new Connect Plus app to everyone – not just InfoWest customers. But when paired with an InfoWest managed router, the app allows users to block unwanted content and enable parental controls for device monitoring and screen time limits, creating a whole-home security experience.
Take time to disconnect from screens, reconnect with family
Research shows that most Americans across nearly all age demographics are spending more hours online than ever, particularly on mobile devices. That uptick in screen time may lead to decreased physical activity, poorer sleep quality and feelings of loneliness and depression.
Spring break presents a great opportunity to disconnect from phones, tablets and computers and spend time together. What would your family do with just one more hour offline each day? Unplugging in the digital age is easier said than done, so Larson suggests making it a group effort.
“I have a hard time doing it myself,” she said. “My cell phone is always with me now.”
Instead of watching TV or playing video games after dinner, try a board game. Set some ground rules on screen time for all ages.
People travel from around the world to enjoy the beautiful views and abundance of recreational opportunities that Southern Utah offers, Larson said. Take advantage of the warmer weather and get outside. Plant a garden, take a bike ride or go for a hike.
Larson believes it’s important to remember that the world isn’t going to fall apart if everyone – including adults – leaves their phones at home for a while. In fact, you might find that when you commit to being in the moment, you don’t even miss checking emails and scrolling social media.
“When we take time away from our devices, we’re able to develop a different perspective on things,” she said. “We can kind of refresh and decompress from the stresses that overconnectivity sometimes brings.”
Learn more about InfoWest’s products, services and community outreach on their website.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- InfoWest | Telephone: 866-463-6937 | Website.
- St. George: 435 E. Tabernacle St.
- Cedar City: 360 W. 200 North.
- Cedar City: 755 S. Main St., Suite 5.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.