I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review.
Photo taken with ZTE Warp Sync camera. And yes, that is a drawing of Eli watching Gus poop. Perhaps it’s a commentary on how Eli feels about limits on screen time.
This fall, we underwent some serious soul-searching as a family in regards to our screen and technology habits. We’ve always tried to keep a handle on the kids’ screen time, but after a summer where we all depended on them too much (between countless layovers and delays while traveling and general parenting exhaustion after a month of non-stop family time), we needed a reset. A Ctrl-Alt-Delete on our technological lives, if you will.
It’s not easy coming up with a plan, especially when you start to take a good hard look at your own screen habits. We were turning into “Do as I say, but not as I do” parents when it came to checking Facebook and playing Settlers of Catan online. We’ve also been down this path before, where we set impossible limits for the kids (30 minutes a day! And no more!). That’s just not us, and neither is setting timers and being ultra-specific on how much time is allowed. We’ve tried this before, and many, many times we’ve failed.
This time around, thanks to all those countless plans for family screen time rules that have crashed and burned in a matter of days or weeks, the kids were more than a little jaded when we announced our new plan. But this time, things would be different. There are no set limits on screen-time, but there are things that must be done before you can pick up a device. Weekdays are different from weekends and vacations, but we do require that certain things be done before playing Minecraft or checking Instagram. Like, brush your teeth and put on pants. On weekends, you need to read, play, and do something creative first.
We’re going by the good old gut-o-meter as far as time on devices goes. If it’s a beautiful day, and your friends are outside? Your booty needs to be outside as well. The deal is that when we say it’s time to put the screens up, it’s done without complaining or pestering us for more time. That right there will earn you a timer and nagging mom. And nobody wants that.
We’ve also been vigilant about putting our devices to sleep with plenty of time before our bodies need to go to sleep. It’s different for each kid (so unfair!) and gets pushed back an hour on weekends, but when it’s time, the devices come downstairs to sleep and charge. This has solved many issues, for all of us. No longer am I checking Facebook at 11 pm, then realizing it’s 11:30 and I’m wired. We don’t have to worry about Elena getting texts or notifications that she just can’t resist checking at all hours of the night.
While it’s still not a perfect plan, and we do slide from time to time, it feels so much better, so much more balanced. And in the end, that’s all we want from our techy lives, right? Balance between all the good stuff technology provides, and all the good stuff real life provides.
Speaking of good stuff, we’re not opposed to using screens to bring us closer together as a family. And nothing does that better than laughing together. And these days, nothing makes us laugh more than a good YouTube video. We might have a hard time agreeing on a movie, or a game, but we can all agree that an angry rooster scaring a reporter is hilarious.
Or that today’s kids seeing a Walkman for the first time is funny. And makes your grownups feel really, really old.
Or that arguing with an ibex is pointless … unless the point is busting a gut.
Or that a 1980s aerobics routine perfectly choreographed to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is guaranteed to turn any frown upside down.
Of course, it helps if your chosen device streams videos effortlessly, whether you’re at home or trying to entertain the little hobos while waiting for that pizza you ordered a hundred years ago (or is that just what it feels like eating out with my kids?). It’s even better if your chosen device offers Dolby Digital Plus, so you get the very best sound quality when the poor reporter drops the rooster and runs for his life, screaming like a little girl. For the last month, we’ve been playing around with the ZTE Warp Sync from Boost Mobile. With these features and more (including Sprint’s enhanced LTE network, a 5″ HD touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 2, and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor), you’ll be laughing together while experiencing top-notch pictures, sound and super-fast, uninterrupted streaming.
And when it comes to monitoring screen time and data usage for bigger kids, just getting started with their very own devices, it helps to have choices (and limits!) when it comes to data plans. Boost Mobile gives you just that, with their Monthly Unlimited Select Plans. With much screen time, comes much data usage. The Boost Mobile data plans can help keep that data usage in check, until younger users can prove they’re responsible enough to not rack up big data charges.
This is the second device we’ve testing with Sprint and Influence Central, and it’s definitely opened up my eyes to new devices and plans. It’s certainly helpful as we navigate this new world of technology with kids, and especially as we move towards Elena having a full-fledged smart phone of her own. You can learn more about the ZTE Warp Sync and the flexible and affordable cellular plans from Boost Mobile, and see what we’ve been experiencing as a family for yourself.
In the meantime, we need to keep the laughs coming. The highs next week are in the 20s, and I see little snowflakes in my 10 Day Forecast. To survive another Polar Vortex, we’ll need all the laughs we can get! So do your part, and share your favorite, family-friendly YouTube videos in the comments.