2014 is underway and besides resolving to say no, how did I do in keeping my digital resolutions last year? Last year I mentioned that the resolutions I tend to keep are not only manageable but involve moderate amounts of change towards a shift in lifestyle. I shared 7 Digital Resolutions to Make in 2013 and I’m back to share how I did with each one.
Be conscious of screen time. I started off the New Year by unplugging at Noon after writing two blog posts to spend time together as a family at my in-laws house. A gorgeous winter day made it easy to leave my phone in my car and just say no to checking email via their painfully slow internet connection in favor of time outside on their sprawling farm where Little Miss Techie and I went on a photo walk to capture some images as she learned how to use my Samsung NX300. I spent the first half of the year as a project manager, managing social media campaigns where client and blogger needs compelled me to check my email in case something came up. It was unhealthy, stressful, and took time away from my kids during times when I vowed to unplug. The second half of the year was like a breath of fresh air as I went back to working for myself and accepted client work as it fit into my schedule. With a new part time job starting this month, changes are coming but in a very manageable way that will allow me to still be conscious of my personal time in front of a screen.
Monitoring the digital health of my devices. Even though I’m constantly scanning for viruses and spyware, I have to admit that I wasn’t the best at maintaining my computer’s health. I often complained to my husband about how slow my primary computer was throughout the year. The culprit? Photos and video. I take a ton of photos for when on press trips and of my family and the file sizes eat up hard disk space quickly, making my computer sluggish. I’m starting the year with a brand new, bigger hard drive that has already made my computer faster. I’ve also been going through photos to delete duplicates and ones that aren’t up to snuff. This year I resolve to be better about deleting as I go, only saving the best ones and offloading images to the cloud to free up precious space when my machine seems slow. It’s also a good idea to perform a full scan of your computer on a regular basis to clean out any unnecessary plug-ins that could be slowing down your machine.
Backing up my data. If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s data backup. I run Carbonite for automatic backup to the cloud but also have an external drive that my machine backs up to throughout the day. You might say I’m a just a bit obsessive about my data! It’s also a good idea to secure personal information through free services like Master Lock Vault that not only serves as a safe way to store all passwords securely in the cloud but as a method of storing electronic copies of personal documents. As I strive to live a more paperless life, there are more documents that I need to add to my Master Lock Vault account.
Checking parental controls and having conversations about why they’re important. With kids ages 7 and almost 10, this is the time that they’re online a lot to complete required homework on websites, conducting research, emailing family members, playing Club Penguin, and even using voice search to Google topics of interest. While we’ve talked about how to be a good digital citizen, we’ve also discussed why parental controls on our computers, Kindles, and Xbox are important. They know that we trust them but as parents, it’s our job to protect them from content that may not be age appropriate and from strangers in cyberspace we just don’t want them to meet.
Being mindful of publicly shared content. Earlier this year I admitted on Babble that my social media self is a carefully curated version of myself. Why? “Social media allows a voyeuristic look into our lives, and I’ve always erred on the side of caution about my sharing through any online platform. Content I share through my social channels is consciously curated for my various audiences, not because I want my audiences to perceive me as someone I’m not, but more for my personal protection and to keep my family’s digital footprint small. I’ve always been conscientious about what I’m sharing and with whom. I’ve always been protective of my family.” I will continue to be protective of what I share online especially because you never know who is seeing it.
Incorporating STEM topics in family activities. STEM may seem like the hot educational buzz topic of the year but in fact, science, technology, engineering, and math have always been subjects that young kids have been naturally drawn too but kids’ interest in these topics wanes if they’re not encouraged to pursue these fields. There has been a surge in STEM toys for kids of all ages and at all price points to help foster interest in these subjects. Our newest favorites? Little Bits for teaching beginning circuitry because snapping together pieces that do something has never been more addictive or satisfying while engaging in the scientific process of trial and error.
Curbing the urge to text while driving. Using a mobile phone while driving was already illegal in Washington, D.C. and this year, handheld cellphone use also became illegal in Maryland. I’ve always been a supporter of AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign, advocating no texting and driving but this year it was exciting to see how Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile also joined AT&T and 4 million people took the It Can Wait pledge. 4 million pledges may seem like a large number but not when you consider how many individuals own mobile phones. Clearly we have a long way to go and I’ll continue to support this movement to get the word out.
If you mastered doing the 7 things mentioned above in 2013, kudos to you! I present a new challenge to you this year with my 16 Tech Resolutions for 2014 designed to help you live a more zen digital life!
As a member of Master Lock’s Live Secure Safety Squad, I have been compensated for my time in writing this post and receive samples for review. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.