Digital New Year Resolutions: Taking Control of Technology For a Healthy New You

Technological advancements in 2019 will bring with it both the good and the bad. On the positive side, there is no doubt that technology has brought truly awesome advancements to our day-to-day lives. From convenience and efficiency, safety and life-saving features, to entertainment and information, technology has transformed modern-day living. But, viewed more critically, the near-constant presence of technology has also taken control of our behavior, defining how we act when instead, we should be strategically using technology to improve ourselves.

The New Year is an opportunity to take control of your technology habits and self-select the very best that technology has to offer, instead of acquiescing to the ever-present shortcuts that result in less physical activity and less quality, face-to-face interactions with friends and family.

After all, technology isn’t the bad guy; it’s how we use technology that is the problem. So, it’s up to each of us to take a step back and assess our technology diets and see not only where we can trim the overuse but how we can use technology to work towards even greater versions of ourselves in 2019. Let’s get healthy with technology!

healthy technology habits for 2019


Health Technology Habits

  • Don’t use your phone when driving. It is a life-or-death choice.
  • Don't let technology limit your sleep. Keep your phones out of the bedroom.
  • Limit your day-to-day technology distractions by tailoring notifications.
  • Manage friends, family, and work expectations about technology response time.
  • Use social media to be social, and reduce your time spent there if it becomes a negative experience.
  • Intentionally, create time to disconnect and enjoy quality time spent alone and with others.


  • Use Technology To Get Outside More: From Pokémon Go and Walking Dead augmented reality games to a huge selection of running, walking, biking exercise apps, technology gets you off the couch, out of the office and moving.
  • Use Technology To Track Your Health Stats: Exercise apps and dedicated health apps are designed to track your personalized health stats and goals. These technologies can alert you to health risks and also serve as motivation to get and stay active.
  • Use Technology As Your Health Coach: These same apps give your feedback as to your progress and provide tips to improve your results.
  • Use Technology To Make Exercise Fun: From setting your treadmill exercise program to visually taking you on a walk through the streets of Italy to joining a real-time spinning class led by an exercise professional, there are many ways to make time set aside for physical health into an entertaining activity.
  • Use Technology To Make Exercise Social: Many exercise apps allow you to share your benchmark results, as well as challenge other ‘tech and fit’ oriented friends and family members to join you in achieving a healthier new year.

Be present in your life, cultivating real-time relationships and healthy behaviors by actively taking control of your technology use. Stay in tune with the ways technology can make getting healthy a more engaging and entertaining activity.

EarthLink has tools to help you stay safe online. Visit our Security and Tools section to learn more.



Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.

How Grandparents Can Connect With Their Grandkids on Instagram

Sometimes you just have to meet folks where they are. Geography aside, your grandchildren are likely on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. That's the beauty of technology, your grandkids could be living down the street from you or a continent away, but social media doesn’t care. And truth be told, your grandkids might very well be more attentive to what you have to say when you post it.

The great thing about Instagram is that it’s perfect for grandparents. Think of it as a virtual photo album or brag book. It's an opportunity to share your point of view, your memories, and your favorites with the younger generation when (and where) they are listening.

How Grandparents Can Get Started on Instagram

Start with the photo or image. Just like your traditional photo album, choose an image that is interesting. Instagram is about telling stories through images. A memory from your childhood is a story waiting to be told. Honoring your grandchild’s academic or sports achievement is perfect for Instagram. But do be smart about sharing their personal or identifying information on public social media platforms.

Instagram can be all about introspection, especially when this dive inward opens a window into who you are in a way that your family can see and share it. Instagram encourages you to share details about an image with a description.

Using Hashtags on Instagram

Then, don't forget to close with hashtags. A hashtag is like a filing system for social media posts and can help you become part of a trending topic. They always start with the symbol # and are followed by a word with no spaces or punctuation. #grandparent is one to try or maybe #ilovemygrandkids. Just like you can follow an account on Instagram, you can also follow hashtags. So, by using them on your posts, more people might be more likely to see them.

Technically you are encouraged to use more than one hashtag say 10 but no more than 30. You can also curate your own collection of hashtags and re-use them.

Here is a list of hashtags you could use:

#grandparents #family #love #happy #fun #cute #instagood #familytime #life #photooftheday #smile #mom #dad #sister #sisters #siblings #mother #father #related #brothers #brother #sis #bro #grandma #grandpa #parents #grandparentsday #summer #memories #blessed #photo #birthday #anniversary #wedding #uncle #mothersday  #auntie #fathersday #halloween #babyshower #parentstobe #summer #holidays

Want to see how other grandparents are doing it? Check out #grandparent on Instagram.

How Grandparents Can Use Social Media to Make Connections

Think this is sounding a bit frivolous? Think again. Drawings for My Grandchildren is a great example of a way to use social media to make meaningful family connections. This 75-year-old grandfather, Chan Joe, lives in South Korea far from his grandchildren in the United States. He may have wondered if they will really ever know him or what will they remember about him? Chan Joe’s son recognized his father’s talent with art and saw its potential on Instagram. He encouraged his father to draw for his grandchildren and share the images on Instagram.

Social Media Etiquette for Grandparents

  • Don't post unflattering or inappropriate photos of your grandkids
  • Don't hijack every post and turn it into a conversation
  • Don't use social media to guilt kids or grandkids
  • Don't add your grandkids' friends unless they instigate it

There's another side benefit of getting on Instagram or other social media. It gets you involved in your grandchild’s online world. This a great conversation starter for you and your grandchildren. Ask them for help setting up your account and for Instagram tips. Ready to give it a try?


Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.

Keeping Kids Safer In a Digital World

Today’s children are considered ‘Digital Natives’ because they were born into a world defined by technology, but are actually “Digital Naives.” Without intervention, children lack an understanding of the implications of their digital actions. We tell kids that they should never meet-up with a person they met online and that someone you don’t know in real life is always a stranger (because you can’t confirm who they really are). But, let’s face it, the internet is about making connections.

From dating sites to Craigslist and social media groups, adults make online connections that turn into real-world connections regularly. At some point, children will have reasons to make these kinds of connections too. Even if that time is when they go off to college, the adults in children’s lives need to model behavior that ensures safety in the digital world.

While you can never guarantee anything you do will keep you 100 percent safe, there are precautions to consider if you really want to meet up with someone you met online. Here are tips for staying safe when meeting and talking to unknown people online.

  • Ask them to use Facetime or Google Hangouts or a social media app or live chat app.
  • If they refuse or can’t for some reason, ask them to send you a selfie with something that shows the day’s date and time.
  • If they also refuse to do this or can’t send a selfie, do not meet up with them!
  • Ask yourself, why would they be refusing to prove who they really are?


  • If you arrange to meet-up with someone, never go alone.
  • Arrange to meet up in a public place with lots of other people around.
  • Tell the person that “I’m bringing along my friend too. If you're being safe like me, and you have someone coming too, they could sit together.”

If you are under the age of 18, these are not suggestions. You must bring a trusted adult with you if they approve of the meet up. If any of your plans are not accepted by your new online friend, stop communicating with them. And then take time to block them on your accounts and hide your information from them.

When meeting and talking to unknown people online, your safety and comfort should be important to them. It will be important to any good person you meet online who wants to meet up IRL. The reality is that it’s a dangerous world out there — for them as well. Even following these tips cannot guarantee your safety.

Talk to the trusted adults in your life, use good judgment, and stay safe out there.



Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.

Top 10 Cyber Safety Tips for Families

In the Digital Age we are spending an increasing proportion of our day in cyberspace and less time in real life. From shopping, dating, and sharing to learning and teaching, our interactions with the virtual world are having a greater and greater influence on how we and others see ourselves, how we think, and how we see the world and our place in it. Regrettably, there is not a virtual justice system ensuring that those who use the internet for good are rewarded and that those who do otherwise face appropriate consequences.

As parents, we need to help our children grow up understanding that, as Thomas Friedman of The New York Times put it, “the internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information, where they need to bring skepticism and critical thinking to everything they read and basic civic decency to everything they write.” Friedman cited a Stanford Graduate School of Education study published in November 2016 that found “a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the internet.”

So, what’s a parent to do?

Savvy Cyber Kids — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable youth, families, and school communities to be empowered by technology— recognizes that children may be “Digital Natives” but they are also digital naive. And, without intervention, completely lack an understanding of the implications of their digital actions. Founded in 2007 by internet security expert, noted speaker, and author Ben Halpert, Savvy Cyber Kids provides cyber ethics resources for parents and teachers to educate children as they grow up in a world surrounded by technology.

Here are his Top Ten Parent Tips for Cyber Safety:

Be Involved

Do you know your child’s favorite game, app, or social media community (and it changes often!)? If not, ask them! Children love talking about what they do with technology. Now that you know their favorite app, game, or social media community, ask your child who they interact with in those digital spaces. Just as you ask about who your child plays with at school, you should ask who your children’s friends are online.

Have the Tech Talk

Much like the other talk,” the first time you introduce the “tech talk” is an important parenting hallmark. Since giving your child access to an internet-enabled device is like taking the front door off your house and inviting in strangers, children need to understand that the virtual world can be a dangerous place.  They need to take steps to keep themselves safe. Help your child learn to distinguish between the physical world and the virtual world. Explain to your children that the physical world includes their home, friends they play within their neighborhood, at school, and on sports teams they play on. Teach your children to see strangers as strangers. As your children get older, the “tech talk” continues to evolve and delves into greater detail the inherent dangers of cyberspace. Start the talk — and don’t stop talking.

Be a Safe Resource for Your Child

Let your children know they can approach you if something upsets them online, if they realize that they made a mistake, and that you are always available for them to help them understand what they are experiencing. Ask your child if they had ever seen anything online or in a game that made them feel uncomfortable or strange. Or if anyone has said anything strange to them in an app or a game. Ask them if anything online has made them feel funny, hurt their feelings, or confused them. If they make a mistake, resist the urge to have a merely punitive approach. Help them to make better choices and sustain their willingness to communicate with you.

Encourage Your Children to Stop. Think. Connect.

Encourage your children to use critical thinking skills and pause when they are about to post on social media  — then think about what they are about to do, before potentially posting or forwarding something mean or suggestive. As a rule of thumb, have them answer a question like: What would my mother think about this? Help your children to understand why authorship, sources, and sponsorship can influence the truthfulness of what they see online. Challenge them to not believe everything they see and to search for proof before accepting information.

Teach that Strangers Are Forever

To your children, anyone that reaches out to them via an app, game, or social media community seems like a good person just wanting to chat. Yet anyone that your child meets online is a stranger — forever.. You can’t definitively know who this person is, if they are misrepresenting themselves, or if they are safe to engage with. Ask your children if they have ever received a message from someone in a game or an app that they don’t know in the physical world. Talk to your children about the concept of privacy and how they should not share personal information like names, addresses, or phone numbers, if their parents are home, family schedules, or what school they attend. Make sure your children understand that they should never meet someone they met online in the physical world. 

Update Everything

It is important for you and your children to update all devices and software on a regular basis and when notified by the manufacturer or creator. Anytime an update (often called a patch) is available, a fix was made to a known problem with that device or software. Perhaps there is a way for someone to remove all the information from a computer or device. Maybe there’s a way for someone to remotely turn on the video camera on your device and take inappropriate videos. In addition to keeping up with the latest patches, install (and keep updated) an antivirus product. Antivirus products can protect you from certain attacks. 

Understand Your Technology

Read the privacy policy for each device, app, game, or social media platform that your child is using. This will help you learn exactly what information is collected by the company providing the service and what they can do with that information. Next, look for the available parental controls for each. Some apps, games, and social platforms offer options that can limit who your children can talk to, as well as who can contact your child. If there is an option to create private profiles, direct them to do so and talk to your children about not allowing people they do not know in the physical world to connect with them.

Set Security Freezes for the Entire Family

The reality is that credit monitoring services are not enough. Someone can still open an account in your name and ruin your credit history. Encourage all of your family members to contact each of the three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) and place a security freeze on your credit files. With the security freeze on your credit file, no one can open a new account (take out a mortgage, a car loan, or other financial commitment on your behalf) unless they have your secret pin.

Enable Two-Step Verification 

Every account you and your children use is secured by user ID, such as a nickname or email address, and the password. This is done to prove that you are the person that is supposed to be accessing the account you were attempting to log into. Due to the increasing number of security breaches, encourage your family members to take an additional step, beyond a complex password. Enable two-step verification, a security measure that typically involves a text message being sent to your phone, a one-time code sent to your email, a call to your phone and/or the use of a verification app (sometimes called an authenticator app).

Create a Partnership with Your Schools

Encourage your childrens’ schools to support your digital parenting by merging cyber ethics lessons across all learning disciplines and offering age-appropriate cyber ethics programming for students, parents, and educators.


Updated 2/16/2021



Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.