New Class Helps Navigate Tech Conversations with Children and Teens

Picture of two boys using phones
How should parents adress the use of smart phones, tablets and other screens with their kids? Digi_Life, a class developed by UT Extension, helps answer this question and more. Photo courtesy of Pixabay​.

Most adults work at least an eight hour day at their jobs. For the average child aged eight to 18, this number is nearly equal to their daily screen time. This amount of screen time can cause many behavioral issues, but University of Tennessee Extension offers a program called “Digi_Life” to address this phenomenon.

“Screen time is linked to sleep disturbances and online bullying, and gaming specifically is linked to the risk of developing a psychological or behavioral dependence,” says Heather S. Wallace, UT Extension human development specialist. “Parents need to be equipped to handle the conversations and decisions that come with living in such a tech-saturated world, and that’s where UT Extension comes in,” continues Wallace.

Digi_Life is a four-session curriculum to guide parents through different facets of technology and its effects on their children and teens. Topics include online safety, social networking, setting boundaries for screen time and childhood development.

“We want to help the youth of Tennessee be healthy, and that includes helping their parents make wise decisions about when to get a phone or device, how much time to spend on it, what apps and programs are the riskiest. Parents and guardians can help guide children toward responsible and healthy internet usage in ways that can stick for life,” says Wallace.

For additional help or to find a Digi_Life class near you, contact the family and consumer sciences agent or 4-H youth development agent at your local county Extension office. You can also visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website at  

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Heather S. Wallace, assistant professor, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, 865-974-7193,