Making Brownies with GrammyWe’ve all seen it. Families sitting together eating, ignoring one another because they’re completely consumed with their mobile devices. (Been there, done that!)

Or has this happened to you? You’re engaged in a meaningful conversation with your daughter when her cell phone rings. Poof! You disappear!

Wouldn’t it be great if your family came together and established best practices around technology use? Sort of like Miss Manners Tech Etiquette?

News Flash! Most parents will think this is a good idea; most kids will not.

So consider planning a fun evening to get your kids on board to keep the entire family safe and connected. And don’t forget the treats! (I’ve included an insanely scrumptious brownie recipe at the end of this post for a little inspiration!)

Create a Family Tech Mission Statement

You might even come up with a tech etiquette mission statement like this one:

In our family, we thoughtfully and intentionally use technology to improve our lives; we don’t allow technology to rule (or damage) our relationships.

To get started, ask your kids for ideas on smart and caring ways to use technology to:

  • connect with each other instead of becoming isolated;
  • entertain (and dare I say uplift?) instead of just waste time;
  • educate instead of mindlessly surf (or worse, get pulled into porn)

Develop Your Own Set of Tech Etiquette Best Practices

Family Enjoying Meal At Home

NOTE: No mobile devices have invaded this dinner table!

Here are some questions to answer together as you create your own tech etiquette:

  • How much daily screen time is healthy?
  • What personal information should be shared online (and what specifically should not)?
  • When friends come over, where do their mobile devices go? (Some parents require them to be on the kitchen counter for the duration of the visit.)
  • Do we allow mobile devices at the dinner table? Are there other situations where tech should be silenced?
  • If we’re in the middle of a conversation, do we allow that to be interrupted with a call from a friend? If so, in what circumstances?
  • Are devices allowed to go to bed with kids at night or do they get re-charged at the parents’ bedside?

After you create your family’s tech etiquette best practices, be sure to display them in your home’s hub.

Gentle Reminder: Bedrooms Are for Sleeping

Bedrooms are for sleeping and studying, but not for endless chatting, texting and tweeting at night. At least according to Shawn Brooks, executive director for Oxbow Academy, an in-patient treatment center in Utah for boys who struggle with pornography addiction.

iStock_000037398698SmallAs reported in the article Adolescent Addiction: When Pornography Strikes Early, Brooks “encourages parents to sit down with teens and establish rules and responsibilities—prior to technology arriving, if possible.”

One of his KEY RULES is that Internet-enabled devices do not belong in bedrooms.

“(With puberty) and the release of estrogen and testosterone, it jacks you up,” says Brooks. “Then throw in a data package or a smartphone and it’s like Russian roulette but all the chambers have bullets.”

Note: Although Brooks talks about teens, the article documents kids as young as eight needing treatment for pornography addiction.

Chime In!

What’s your family’s tech etiquette? Have you talked about it or has technology use sneaked in and taken over? Please share what’s worked (or hasn’t!) for your family.

Don’t Forget the Treats!

These brownies are dangerously delicous! And the whole wheat makes them almost healthy, right? Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Butterscotch Browniesfloyda's butterscotch brownies2

  • ½ stick butter (softened)
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs or 6 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mix until thoroughly blended. Add chopped nuts and fold in. Pour into a greased and floured 9” x 13” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes. Top with Brown Butter Frosting.

Brown Butter Frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 T canned milk (or coconut milk)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon rum flavoring (optional)
  • Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans etc.) for garnish

In a heavy gauge 4 to 5 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar, then cream and vanilla until smooth. Spread warm frosting onto brownies. Garnish each cookie bar with chopped nuts.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.