Good Digital Habits for a New School Year

With fall upon us and school back in session, it’s a great time to start teaching and enforcing good habits to help kids have a successful year ahead.  We are in the midst of settling into many routines: setting up regular waking times, enforcing good homework habits, planning and packing healthy lunches, and balancing after-school activities with down-time.  It’s the perfect time to help kids establish a good digital regimen, too.

Here are some easy things you can do to help kids have a successful school year:

Find a healthy balance.

It’s hard to avoid technology in almost every facet of our lives as we depend on it to make life easier.  So, in managing your kids’ screen time, remember not all technology time is equal.

Kids of all ages are increasingly being required to use Internet-connected technology in the classroom and at home for schoolwork.  Using it for research or writing papers is not the same as using it for fun and connecting with friends.

But while you may allow screen-time beyond school reasons, consider the other things kids could be doing for fun besides being sedentary with a screen.  Instead of swiping a finger across a screen, how about being outside on a swing?  What about arts and crafts vs. Minecraft?  None of these options is better or worse, but finding a good balance so that kids work their hearts and their brains equally is the best approach.

Try this: After homework is done, have your kids earn fun screen-time.  Have them do something physically active, intellectually challenging, or be help around the house or someone else before going to the screen.  Also, charge all mobile devices outside kids’ rooms at night, perhaps in your bedroom or a common area of the home.  They need their sleep, not screens at night.

Encourage responsible use.

Remind your kids that technology is a tool that can be used for many things, both good and bad.  Encourage them to use it for good, either for themselves or for others. Whether it’s for schoolwork, connecting with friends, playing games, or posting videos, they should remember to always be safe, kind, and savvy while they’re using it.

Try this:  Understand the technology your kids use so you can best guide them. Be informed about what they’re using in the classrooms, sign up or try out apps they love using, or use it together with them.  Be a good role model and remind them to think before they click, download, post, or respond to anything online.  Keep the lines of communication open so they know they can come to you first if they feel they’ve done something wrong or something bothers them.

For more specific information on raising great digital citizens, go to

About Lynette

Lynette Owens is the founder and global director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families (ISKF) program. A mom of two school-aged children, Lynette established the ISKF program in 2008 to help extend the company’s vision of making a world safe for the exchange of digital information to the world’s youngest citizens. The program, active in 19 countries, helps kids, families, and schools become safe, responsible, and successful users of technology. Follow Lynette on Twitter @lynettetowens or read her blog: