A Partnership to Help Families Build Better Digital Habits
UScellular and nonprofit organization, Screen Sanity, have partnered to help families build better digital habits, using a new resource called the Smarter Start Toolkit. This is part of UScellular’s efforts to help people reset their relationship with technology, and it supports Screen Sanity’s mission to create a world where kids are captivated by life, not screens.
UScellular CEO, Laurent “LT” Therivel, and Screen Sanity Co-founder and Executive Director, Tracy Foster, recently answered a few questions about why they came together and what they are doing to help families create healthy digital connections.
LT – What led to UScellular partnering with Screen Sanity?
First, it’s such an honor to partner with an organization like Screen Sanity. They have taken on a noble cause and have incredible resources to help parents raise their kids in today’s digital world.
We chose to partner with Screen Sanity because we know people – parents and kids – are spending a lot of time on their phones. Data from Asurion says that Americans on average reach for their device 352 times a day, which clearly shows our dependency on them. But our phones do a lot of good too. They keep us connected to our friends and family and the things that matter most. The issue is when technology gets out of place and becomes a distraction.
Our initiatives from earlier this year – the Phones Down for 5 Challenge and US Mode – were designed to help people reset their relationship with technology. Now as we enter back-to-school season, we wanted to further build on those efforts.
We know navigating the digital landscape can be overwhelming, and parents may not know where to start when looking to help their children establish healthy boundaries with technology. In fact, our survey data says that more than 40% of parents don’t talk to their kids about setting time limits on their devices. Based on that, we identified a need to provide families with better tools and resources to navigate the digital world together.
Screen Sanity has encouraged this needed conversation since 2018, and we are working together to help families have engaging discussions about how everyone in the family uses technology.
Tracy – Why did Screen Sanity want to partner with UScellular?
Like UScellular, we believe technology has the power to uplift and improve our humanity, yet it is critical that we create new cultural norms of digital health if we want our kids to flourish. We are excited to see UScellular taking on this important issue, and are proud to partner with them to encourage healthier digital habits for families across the U.S.
As parents, we are the first generation to raise digital natives – kids who’ve never known a world without smartphones and social media – and there hasn’t been a roadmap. In fact, surveys reveal that technology is the number one battleground in homes today. Screens have seeped into every corner of our kids’ lives, and many parents are trying to navigate this unpaved road alone. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Screen Sanity exists to help guide families on their digital journey, so we were thrilled to collaborate with UScellular on the new Smarter Start Toolkit. It includes conversation prompts and quick tips to help parents and kids set intentions, establish boundaries and deepen trust as a child begins their phone journey.
Tracy – What do you feel is the most important thing parents and families should do when deciding to get their children a cellphone?
The most important thing is to have a plan for how technology and devices will be used. And to create that plan with your child. Start by establishing why your child needs or wants a phone. This creates the baseline for the plan and grounds the conversation in a place of mutual understanding.
The good news is the Smarter Start Toolkit helps families have this first-phone conversation in a positive and productive way. It then builds on that to encourage and facilitate ongoing discussions beyond the initial decision to get a device.
LT – How do you envision this partnership coming to life in the future?
We want to start by ensuring that parents and families know there are actionable resources available to help them. The Smarter Start Toolkit is one that we will continue to highlight and build on, and there are more tools and tips at Screen Sanity’s website.
These are resources and guides that families can go back to as needed. Plans and circumstances change, and each individual family knows what works best for them when it comes to technology use.
In the months ahead, we will continue to encourage conversation and use of the resources we’ve created through this campaign and with Screen Sanity.
July 26, 2023