OUR HISTORY + MISSION
Today’s parents have many resources to help them prepare to raise a child, but there’s one book that doesn’t yet exist: What to Expect when you’re (Tech)xpecting! The truth is, we are the first generation of parents pondering questions like “How much screen time is too much? How should I feel about Fortnite? When do I get my child a phone? How should I prepare them for social media?”
We get it—a few years back, we began asking the same questions for our own children.
So, we did what young parents often do, and began seeking advice from parents in the season just ahead of us. But as we begged them to share wisdom, we noticed a hopelessness in their responses. Their voices would get soft, their faces would drop, and their eyes would dim as they shared: “I don’t know what advice to give, but do something different than I’ve done.” And they would often share very personal stories about the way screens were impacting their children’s lives.
Technology has the power to uplift and improve our humanity—but it is critical that we create new cultural norms of digital health if we want our kids to flourish. START seeks to help families and communities across America pursue digital health in order to reduce loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicide in a socially isolated society. Please join us in pursuing our mission–a world where kids stay captivated by life, not screens.
START Rules of Thumb
What exactly do we mean by START? We’re glad you asked. We champion five rules of thumb – aligning to the letters of our organization’s name –as guiding principles of digital health. These principles can foster practical conversations with peers, colleagues, and stakeholder groups. Receive a print version of these START Rules of Thumb instantly when you subscribe to our newsletter.
START WITH YOURSELF
Model healthy tech use for your kids. When studies show the average person checks a smartphone 80 times per day, we need to think about what we are modeling for our kids. Of course, we will never be perfect…but an honest look at our own digital habits is a great first step toward building empathy, trust, and digital health as a family .
TURN IN ZONES
Create device free rhythms and spaces. Establish device-free zones throughout your daily routine—a time to recharge and reconnect with one another. A great place to start is mealtimes and bedtimes—keep phones out of sight when you are eating and have kids charge their devices outside of their bedrooms at night. The benefits are powerful, and can create lifelong habits that foster your child’s mental health and digital well-being.
Apply filters + settings + openness. While there is no filtering or parental control product that is 100% foolproof, our kids deserve the highest level filters we can provide. These are only safety nets; the first line of defense should be open relationships with trusted adults who can help children navigate the dangers they run into online. Accidents are bound to happen, and when they do, adults should be prepared to remain calm so kids know we are safe harbor.
RIDE. PRACTICE. DRIVE.
Use a driver’s ed approach to tech training. Before you hand your kids the keys to a car, you prepare them to navigate risky situations and road hazards. They spend many years shadowing you in the backseat, followed by driving with a learner’s permit—with you logging hours by their side to equip them with the needed skills. Just like a car, tech comes with great responsibility—and requires an intentional training process.
TIME WELL SPENT
Connect online & offline. Keep your eye on what matters most—the life right in front of you. Be intentional about deepening connections with people in your family and community—both online and offline. Show your kids how to be captivated by life—not screens. Teach them to ask this simple question: at the end of my life, what will I say was time well spent?
CO-FOUNDER + DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
CO-FOUNDER + executive DIRECTOR
Brenda Walden, LMFT
“Change depends on a lot of people making choices TOGETHER. Kids and parents can’t easily or very successfully make individual choices…we as a society need to agree to opt-out.”
— Tristan Harris, Former Ethicist at Google