For Students, Parents & Educators

How can we build healthier relationships with technology?

Social media Harms

While, of course, social media has its benefits, it has also taken over young people’s relationships and is constructing their daily reality—homework, weekend plans, flirting, friendship, their sense of self and belonging—all within a system that is designed to capture and monetize our attention.

What you can do

Write to your principal, PTA chair, or parents

Because so many educators, PTA groups, and parents are concerned about how technology is affecting children, one of the easiest, strongest ways you can help is to write to them. To save you time, we’ve provided simple draft language for your principal, PTA chair, or parents.

5 Actions You Can Take Today

We know this can feel overwhelming at an already challenging time. Here are a few important steps you can take today to increase your family's well being.

Discuss The Social Dilemma

This documentary powerfully illustrates the impact of technology designed to steal our attention. Use our Discussion Guide with your family, your school, or your community.

Host a screening

Delete Toxic Apps

Delete Tik Tok → Make a dance or funny video and send it to people you love directly
Delete Snapchat →
Use Text & WhatsApp
Delete Instagram →
Or at least unfollow people who make you feel badly about yourself

Ask yourself and your kids not “Do you like this app?”, but “How does this app make you feel?” both during and after using it.

Delay Social Media/Smartphones

Smartphones and social media can overwhelm the human limits of a young mind: the ability to focus, delay gratification, form identity, form meaningful relationships, and to maintain mental health. We highly recommend that communities delay the introduction and use of smartphones/social media in young people’s lives.

Try These Tips & Tricks

Block YouTube distractions: You and your school can use Safe Youtube links, which create a safer learning environment, keeping unwanted videos from playing/appearing. You can also install Youtube DF, which allows for greater focus.

Take tech breaks: Carve out dedicated time device-free time, whether it's a day or an hour. If you can coordinate with others in your home, collective offline time is even better. Mealtime is a great place to start.

More TIps & Tricks

Read & Discuss These Digital Well-Being Guidelines With Your Family

We offer these family guidelines with the hope that they will help parents navigate the use of technology at home and in school.

Learn More

Additional Resources

While CHT works to fundamentally transform the tech industry, right now youth, families, and schools face significant daily struggles with technology. Here are some resources to help.

Note: The resources linked here will direct you to organizations who we think are doing great work. These third-party sites are not formally affiliated with CHT and their content may change without notice. Please review with care and discretion.

At Home

Take Meaningful Daily Actions

Here’s a collection of practices that people we’ve spoken to have found helpful.

For Delaying Social Media’s Impact on Your Child’s Life

Smartphones and social media can overwhelm the human limits of a young mind: the ability to focus, to delay gratification, to form identity, form meaningful relationships, and to maintain mental health. We highly recommend that communities delay the introduction and use of smartphones/social media in young people’s lives. Please also remember that you can delete problematic apps altogether.

  • The Wait Until 8th pledge is an effective way for parents to stave off smartphone peer pressure by rallying together, classroom by classroom, to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade.
  • Gabb Wireless is a wireless network and phone provider that offers a first phone for kids that includes unlimited talk and text, with a camera, calendar, FM radio and so forth...but no Internet, games, social media, app store, picture messages or group texts.
For Violence Prevention and Intervention

SAFElab is a research initiative that does great work focused on examining the ways in which youth of color navigate violence on and offline. Drawing on computational and social work approaches to research, they engage in qualitative and natural language processing methods to understand the mechanisms of violence and how to prevent and intervene in violence that occurs in neighborhoods and social media environments. 

SAFElab is working on a variety of different projects to improve wellbeing outcomes for youth of color. You can learn more about and support those specific projects here.

For Relating to Your Children’s Experience With Technology
  • Common Sense Media—if you’re looking for a better understanding of what your children are doing on their phones, Common Sense Media addresses many concerns in their Parents Need to Know guide. We recommend beginning with their video, Truth about Tech, in which teens talk about how technology design affects them. The site explains and reviews popular apps your children might be using and how to set controls on them.
  • Screenagers and LIKE are two documentaries that address parts of this issue. Their websites offer curated resources, including Screenagers’s weekly Tech Talk Tuesday newsletter, in which Dr. Delaney Ruston shares conversation starters from a physician’s perspective about social media, video game use, tech tips, latest research, and more.
For Managing Gaming Addiction

If excessive gaming is getting in the way of your or your child’s life, here are some powerful resources:

  • Gamequitters—this support system helps people and families struggling with gaming addiction. The site features affordable step by step programs as well as free resources and hundreds of supportive articles, videos and podcast episodes.
  • Family Exercise: The Empty Glass—Dr. Michael Rich is a Harvard University pediatrician and the founder of the Center on Media and Child Health. His podcast, Ask the Mediatrician, answers questions about media’s influence on children’s health. He shares this helpful exercise:
“Based on the latest research, I recommend that children, teens and their parents sit down together and actively approach their 24 hour day as valuable time to be used in ways that support a healthy lifestyle.

Thinking of their day as an empty glass, they should fill it with the essentials; enough sleep to grow and avoid getting sick, school, time to spend outdoors, play, socialize, do homework, and to sit down for one meal a day together as a family (perhaps the single most protective thing you can do to keep their bodies and minds healthy). Once these activities are totaled, remaining time can be used for other experiences that interest the child, such as the activity in question (Minecraft, Fortnite etc.)”

At School

Book a Talk at Your School

Discuss These Talks & Guidelines With Your Family

CHT’s Education Lead Max Stossel gives powerful talks to groups of students, parents and educators. Please reach out to us to inquire about a talk at your event.

A Talk For Students

Max pulls back the curtain for students on how tech is designed to be manipulative and discusses game addiction/design, self-comparison on social media, feeling addicted to apps, and more.

watch here

A Talk For PArents & Educators

Max provides helpful info & resources for parents and educators, and proposes making school a time where young people can learn focus, patience, and how to be without their devices.

watch here
For Getting Phones Out Of Schools (When School Resumes)

Both academic and social learning is jeopardized by the presence of phones in schools.

  • Away for The Day provides parents, teachers, school leaders, and concerned individuals tools so that you can go to your school and help institute policies where phones are put away for the day.
For Integrating Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

As technology companies know more and more about us with every click and scroll, it is essential that we help the next generation win the race to know themselves. We are big advocates for the SEL movement as a way of arming young people with a fighting chance to have healthy relationships with technology.

For Preventing and Responding to Online Bullying

Communicating behind a screen seems to obscure our ability to empathize with one another, and has invited new forms of bullying.

  • Research shows (Divecha, Brackett, 2019) that the best approach to reducing bullying’s impact includes the adoption of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs, see above.
  • The Yale Emotional Intelligence Center helped create this guide with Facebook, containing tools and advice for students and parents dealing with bullying.
For Reducing Polarization in School and in Society

As human beings, we are very prone to bias, and social media has poured gas on this fire. We are seeing rising cross-partisan hatred and an “us versus them” attitude that motivates people to accept the worst possible version of the other side’s beliefs, and the most flattering version of their own. These visions are distorted and counterproductive to learning and growth.

  • OpenMind Platform provides a set of tools which universities and other organizations can use to depolarize their communities.
For Evaluating What EdTech is beneficial for students and what isn’t

Many schools have integrated technology into their systems without understanding persuasive design and before the harms of these products were well-known. Here are some recommendations to re-evaluate.

  • Everyschool has developed a useful framework for helping school leaders embrace healthy, research-based educational technology with their Ed/Tech Triangle.
  • CHT’s Administrative Recommendations (For in-person school):

    1. Integrate SEL, Mindfulness, & Communication Skills. These are important new categories in response to the digital world the next generation lives in.

    2. Check and return phones at the door (with exceptions, i.e. vulnerable populations seeking online community and specific classes that have thoughtfully required them.) Away for The Day has examples of school policies.

    3. Audit yourselves. Is what you’ve implemented achieving what it was meant to?

    4. Pay attention to what we’re losing as we’re gaining. Move slow and test before making sweeping implementations.

    5. Approach tech in schools with a skeptical eye. Measure success not just in use, but in human results. Start from the assumption that new tech or ed tech won’t improve the learning experience and work backwards from there.
Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?

If you’re having a problem that’s not addressed by these suggestions, we’d love to hear from you so that we can better support you. If you know of a great resource or intervention for parents, educators and youth not reflected here, please let us know and tell us why it was helpful.

Submit a Question/Comment

Please share your feedback

Would you recommend this page to a friend?
YesNo
Take-Control