Most of us work and our kids go to school for about eight hours a day. We sleep seven hours a night. We cook, eat, shower and blow hot-air on our product-saturated hair for about three hours a day. That leaves us six hours. Six. Six hours to read and think and clean our houses; six hours to exercise and visit with people and shop for groceries; six hours to go to church or do the laundry or go to the gym; six hours to hike or create something cool or do a kindness for someone…..six hours to parent.

Currently, the average adult spends 10.5 hours staring at a screen….4.5 watching TV, 1.5 on our smart phones, and about 4 on our tablets or computers.

But we only have six hours a day free.

So how are we doing? How are we functioning as individuals, parents, employees, citizens, souls?

Who knows? Who has the time to do that math? We’re too dang busy crushing candy, keeping up with the tweets, posts and cyber dramas, or deciding which emoji adequately represents the depths of our current emotions.

We need to trim down those minutes…hours…those moments.

The easiest way to do this is to get an app. That may sound ridiculous, but the best way to start taking control over our cyber-lives is to gain awareness of our cyber usage, and apps are great at this. Like the Fitbit that has given us the gentlest reminders on how much movement we’ve had each hour and day, these apps tell us, without judgement, how many minutes we’ve spent online.

Some of the tell us if we are spending our cyber-time gaming or on social media or surfing for information. Some give us sweet reminders that we’ve gone over the number of minutes we’ve set for our cyber-time.

There a many, many of these sorts of apps…some free…some at minimal cost…some for individual phones…some for all the phones on your plan.

I use one called Moment…mostly because the name itself reminds me of how many moments I’m handing over to cyber- whatever.

We know kids’ social and emotional health is suffering these days. We are beginning to understand that the cyber-world is a factor in this suffering.

We tend to focus on the amount of our kids spend online with its abundance of negative content and opportunities. We probably need to look at the impact of our cyber-use…of the moments we hand over that wireless world.

Step one to improving our cyber-raised children is to start monitoring our family’s smartphone usage. Once we have a good idea of how much time we’re all spending staring at screen, we can then come up with our own family’s goals and plans for those six precious hours…for our moments.

Elizabeth Clark

About the Author

Elizabeth Clark has been a mental health therapist for teens and families for thirty years.  She is a presenter for CyberStrong, a collaborative community effort, funded by the Western Colorado Community Foundation, to raise awareness and give skills to parents and educators about the influence of technology on our children, families and community.