As discussed in previous posts, devices are deliberately designed to capture attention swiftly, deftly, and definitively. Consequently, healthy, balanced use requires effort. When that effort includes reflection and discussion about choices involving device use, the ability to make mindful and intentional choices both on and offline improves. 

“Living life out loud” is a great way to teach the executive function skills, like attentional control and decision making, that lead to wise, healthy choices when using devices. “Living life out loud” involves audible narration, and sometimes active demonstration, of the steps you take in your thinking and decision making as you are doing a task.

 In the offline world, “living life out loud” might sound like this –

 “Im going to make meatloaf for dinner. I think Ill use Nanas recipe. Its here in the recipe box. See. This is where I keep recipes that were written down before you could find them on the internet. After I get it out, Ill need to check and see if I have all the ingredients. If I dont, Ill have to pick a different recipe because I dont have time to go to the store ….” By “living out loud,” this parent is modeling, demonstrating and instructing how to: plan ahead; find a recipe; follow instructions; and manage time (among other things). 

An online world example of “living life out loud” might sound like this –

I noticed you sent me links to a podcast and some tik toks you’d like me to hear and watch.  Baby Cooper needs some full attention right now. You can join us for some snacks and peek-a-boo if you like. Then, when he’s down for his nap, I can give those links my full attention. I’d really enjoy it if you joined me so we could talk about them.” By “living out loud,” this parent is: acknowledging that device use can interfere with other activities without dismissing the value of the online activity; modeling how to resolve a conflict of needs; demonstrating the value of single tasking over multi-tasking without a lecture; validating her older child’s interest and desire to share online experiences; creating an opportunity for discussion of online activity.

Here are some other ways to “live life out loud” related to the online world.

  • State your intentions and purpose for using a device whenever you do. For example, “Now that we’ve finished dinner and cleaned up, I’m going to check my email and FaceBook account for 30 minutes. There are some things I need to respond to before it gets too late.”
  • Describe the strategies you are going to use that demonstrate habits for healthy, balanced use. “I’m setting the timer, so I won’t lose track of time. I’ll be up in 30 minutes or less to read you a story and tuck you into bed.”
  • Reflect on struggles you have with device use. “I had trouble turning the iPad off last night and I wasn’t doing anything remotely important! Now I am really tired and it’s hard to do the necessary stuff on my To Do list. Tonight, I am going to follow my own rule and be off devices by 10 pm so I can get a good night’s sleep!”
  • Be proactive if you need to pay attention to a screen-based activity and can anticipate that your child may need something from you during that time. Ask them if there is anything they need before you turn to the screen.  Let them know the nature of what you are doing and why it needs your attention now. “I need to pay attention in a few minutes to someone at work who needs my help. Is there anything you need from me before I go to do that? What do you think you can pay attention to while I’m on my call? How about that new coloring book? I will look forward to seeing your work when I’m off my call! Remember, it might be hard to wait for me but I’m confident you can keep yourself occupied until I’m done.” 

When you live life out loud, you model and teach the kind of intentional and mindful choices and decision making that you eventually want your children to exercise. By regularly reflecting about choices and having ongoing conversations about them, you can nurture both your own and your child’s skill.