Using screen time to build mindful, engaged kids

Faye Sahai, Managing Director, Telosity, Vinaj

Anne Collier

In a previous article, we shared four tips on online safety from Anne Collier, Telosity Advisor and founder/executive director of the national nonprofit Net Safety Collaborative and Net Family News, focused on the developments at the intersection of youth and digital tech and media.

Anne serves on the trust and safety boards of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Yubo. She has been covering safety and youth safety online over two decades. Telosity spoke with Anne to discuss what the nation’s recent shelter in place and increased time at home could mean for digital wellness and online safety. In addition to online safety, she shared three tips on how to use time with technology for conversations about

  1. Use technology mindfully, not mindlessly. That goes for us as well as our kids, Anne says. Are we paying as much attention to how we use our screens as to how they use theirs? Are we communicating with them about why we’re looking at our phones or laptops right now? Mindful of them and their need for our attention as much as work needs? Are we watching the clock or our kids? What is too much attention too? Do our kids have enough room to breathe, make mistakes and learn from them? Is it healthy to grow up under a microscope? Adults and kids should talk through what works for their family. University of Southern California Prof. Henry Jenkins recommends adults have their kids’ backs rather than constantly looking over their shoulders. Flipd is a Telosity portfolio company that allows users to self-manage time spent in technology.
  2. Coach through negativity bias. Our brains go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode if we feel our well-being is threatened by something we see online. Young people—not to mention their parents and guardians! —might have difficulty differentiating between real fear, which does protect us, and false fears, which only grow anxiety, in us and our children. Mindfulness is an important part of understanding and distinguishing between real and false fears, making this an important part of safety and wellbeing online as much as offline. Our children need us to parent from our frontal cortexes, not our amygdalas.
  3. Digital citizenship is at its best when it teaches young people how to use technology to find their place and purpose in the world. While most of the emphasis in this country, especially in K-12 schools, has been on “netiquette” or online behavior management, this concept has much room for development in today’s world. A big step forward for it is a report from the Youth & Media team at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, “Youth & Digital Citizenship+ (Plus): Understanding Skills for a Digital World.”

Raising children in a connected world can be a joyful experience, as long as the adults in their lives make staying connected through conversations, experiences, and affection priorities.

Telosity is a Vinaj fund focused on investing in Pre-seed and Seed-stage companies improving mental wellbeing for 10 to 24 years old. Learn more at