Healthy Tech Habits Resources

Starting Point

"What we call our experience is almost entirely determined by our habits of attention." - William James

Our goal in transforming our unconscious tech habits is to regain perspective about what is important in our lives that we wish to pay attention to. Establishing clear values for our families makes that easier. Read the resources below for studies to support your choices, strategies and tactics to bring your life back in alignment, and stories of transformation for inspiration to stick the course.

Balanced Life Habits

As the time on screens increases our health can suffer. A holistic picture of the elements in play is helpful to rebalancing. I have found the following practices and resources helpful for myself, my family and my students.

Strong Body

Embody the physical (earth)

Engaged Heart

Tending emotions (water)

Clear Mind

Settling the mental realm (air)

Connected Spirit

Honoring the immaterial (fire)

“Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it we bless and are blessed.”

John Tarrant - Zen Buddhist

Recommended Books

Why be Screen Free by Kate Hammond

A quick read for any parent or teacher wanting to know more about the effects of electronic media on children and teens. Comes from a Waldorf perspective, but very accessible, friendly and encouraging. Excellent!

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Wired Child: Debunking Popular Technology Myths by Richard Freed, Ph.D.

This book is a great place to get tried-and-tested tools and talking points for working with families struggling with tech addiction/obsession.

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ScreenWise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner

This is an excellent book! Devorah clearly empathizes with the challenges of kids and offers supportive tech-positive parenting recommendations.

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Raising Humans in a Digital World by Diana Graber

Diana share many of the excellent lessons from her internationally used Cyber Civics curriculum with parents. This waldorf-aware book gives you a thorough resource for sensitively engaging with the technology world, while still honoring childhood.

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The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren

To reverse the either/or consciousness that comes with digital technology use, emotional awareness and literacy is essential. This excellent book gives an accessible explanation and exercises to build internal and external emotional capacity.

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Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford

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The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter Ph.D.

From busyness to joy

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Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash

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Hamlet's Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age  by William Powers

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Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst

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A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink

A mainstream perspective on the value of holistic "right-brain" thinking. Waldorf without Steiner.

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Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherri Turkle

Devices

Sensible Phones

"Smart"

  • iPhone. I don't recommend an iphone, as the Screentime settings are complicated and my teen was able to regularly break through the parental controls. (2022)
  • Android. Familylink is great when you just want to have a device for photos, or audio books, but gets challenging to manage when they have access to a data plan and phone/text.

Apps

Phone

  • HeadSpace. A meditation app that introduces meditation in an easy way. Good for the tech obsessed.
  • Moment. An app that tracks phone usage, so you can see just how much you are on it.
  • Freedom. Block the Internet, Apps, and Websites to allow you to focus. Useful when trying to break a a habit of too much screen time.
  • Screenagers list of apps for parents

Desktop Computer Apps

  • Rescuetime (Free/Paid) - Tracks which apps you spend time on, can block certain categories of apps to keep you productive. I use this daily.
  • Getcoldturkey.com (Free/Paid) - Distraction blocker for desktop computers.

Family Resources

Parental Controls

Setting up parental controls is tricky, as there are many different ways to handle it. The two main ways are: on the internet connection (for your home), or on the device (laptop and phone).
Many internet providers (ComcastATT) have features built into their modems that allow you to filter/control internet access. If you want to get something that's less tricky to configure, something like the Circle is good too, which connects to your modem and filters traffic. Kids may just jump on the neighbor's WIFI though, so I usually suggest putting something on all of the family's devices.
If you prefer to handle it on the devices, which is in some ways better because it's always on even when the device with not at home, Android and iOS both have basic parental controls, with iOS being the more detailed. If you want something more robust, I have heard good things about Qustodio, but have not actually used it myself. It allows you to manage their devices from your smartphone once you install the app on all devices.