Illuminating significant health challenges and ways to solve them
Illuminating significant health challenges and ways to solve them

health & wellbeing

"He who has health has hope
and he who has hope has everything."

Arabian Proverb

A Health issue that matterS

Digital Addiction

Devices and social media are designed
to be addictive

If adults with fully developed brains and attention span struggle to resist the constant temptation to scroll and click, kids have no chance of escaping the digital temptation and consequent addiction.
Most parents struggle with knowing how much device time is too much, and while there’s no perfect answer, we’ve put together guidelines you can follow to take steps in the right direction.
1 Grounded and Soaring 2 Child Mind Institute 3 Clinical Psychological Science

10 Tips for Digital

Create a family media plan

One of the best first steps you can take as a parent is to set very specific guidelines and expectations around technology use. There’s a big difference between mindlessly scrolling TikTok and typing a paper for school, and that’s where a family media plan can be very useful.

Family Media Plan

Together, it helps you decide what kind of screen time is okay and when it’s okay to use it so that there’s little to no ambiguity.

Include them in the conversation

Include your children in any media plan, technology-related rules- or guideline-setting. By doing this, you empower them to be a part of setting appropriate digital limits.

Include & Listen

Research has shown how effective this is, as parents who use this approach have children who are more engaged, better problem-solvers, and more resilient than kids with rules dictated to them.

Establish device-free times and spaces in your home

Even though they often fight us on it, we parents know how essential routines are for kids. If you set device-free time blocks in their day, they may adjust faster than you expected.

Device-Free Times & Spaces

1. No devices during family meals
2. No social media during homework
3. Screens off at least 30 minutes before bedtime
4. Maintain spaces — the living room, dining room, or bedrooms for talking, reading, or rest

Process emotions together

Kids will display various moods and emotions. Be present for them and listen empathetically when they share struggles. Help them understand what they are experiencing. Studies suggest giving words to our negative feelings reduces our pain.

Be present, curious & empathetic

Our presence, curiosity, and empathy help kids grow in self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and self-regulation. Feeling validated, they learn to trust and value themselves and will be less likely to seek out validation online.

Use parental controls

There are two approaches to parental controls: blocking and monitoring. Blocking is appropriate for younger children, and monitoring is typically a better approach with teens.

10 Apps
We recommend

Click the APPS tab in the Digital Addiction Resources Tabs below.

Find meaning and purpose, unplugged

Young people with a strong inner connection to something benevolent are 90 percent less likely to experience depression. When we attend to our inner lives and not to external productivity — we empower them to attend to their development.

Build Relationships

Cultivating positive human relationships dramatically increases life expectancy. When our kids are young, there’s much we can do to help them connect with friends outside of school. If they have a special interest they are exploring help them find groups aligned with this.

Introduce your kids to nature early & often

When we expose our kids to nature early in life and help them see it as a source of solace and meaning, they can come back to it again and again during their whole lives.

The GREAT outdoors

Times spent in the great outdoors are times that kids rarely ask for — or even think about — digital technologies.

Be a good role model with your own device use

These tips don't matter if you’re unaware of your screen habits. Kids don’t do what you say. They do what you do. Model the behavior and values you want in your home. Kids tend to be more willing when you also follow the house rules.

We've all been there

You must answer one quick email, catch up on a group chat, or check the comments on your Facebook post. It might not seem like a big deal at the moment, but those quick glances at your phone add up over time and influence them.

It's good to be bored sometimes

It's not the parents' responsibility to entertain their children every moment. Kids are naturally curious and creative. Being bored helps them strengthen their creative muscles and learn to cope with feelings of boredom as they get older.

Device-free Activities

If they protest boredom, acknowledge their feelings and ask them to devise a solution. If they struggle, offer ideas that don't include an electronic device. Click our ACTIVITY IDEAS tab in the Digital Addiction Resources below.

Set your screen-time goals

You can be a good role model for your kids by establishing daily screen-time limits for yourself and sticking to them. And this doesn’t just go for when you’re around people; it should also be something you adhere to when by yourself.

Have a good reason

When you’ve set your limits and feel the urge to grab your device, ask yourself, “Why am I checking this?” If you don’t have a good reason, put your device down. If you have a good reason, share it with your kids and others in the room.
ask assessreport support

Annual surveys power
our ability to help

Each year, Dakota Medical Foundation asks parents and professionals to complete a survey to assess the mental, physical, emotional, and social health of children and adults in the region.

This survey is completed by parents, caregivers, psychiatrists, licensed social workers, school principals, and others. Their input shines a light on health issues that matter and powers our ability to plan and report back to our health partners for collaboration. Alongside them, we support the health of many through the tools and resources we develop together.


  1. Qustodio – best for geofencing
  2. Bark – best for social media
  3. Net Nanny – best for location tracking
  4. mSpy – best for mobile phones
  5. Kaspersky Safe Kids – best for PC
  6. Norton Family – best for Mac/iOS
  7. Mobicip – best for Chromebook
  8. McAfee Safe Family – best for Windows
  9. OpenDNS Family Shield – best for blocking adult content
  10. Kidlogger – best for Android

The Social Dilemma


Click HERE to visit our Phones Down ▾ Heads Up Challenge page for activity ideas and the opportunity to take the challenge!Put Your Phone Down • Pick Your Life Up



Inaugural DMF Summit • Digital Addiction & Dopamine • Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

Digital Addiction and Dopamine • Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented material abundance and access to information, we’re more miserable than ever. With more than half of Americans now diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime and a suicide occurring once every 11 minutes, what about modern life causing such despair?

Dr. Anna Lembke is a Stanford University professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine. Dr. Lembke is the author of the New York Times bestselling “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence,” which explains how our addiction to pleasure causes us pain.

Dopamine Nation Book by Dr. Anna Lembke book cover

DMF Summit Cover Slide

Dr. Anna Lembke Dopamine Nation Cover Slide



» Download the DMF Wellness Survey Reports by clicking on the cover images below.

DMF Wellness Survey Results 2023 image thumbnail

2022 DMF Wellness Survey Report cover

     2022 DMF Wellness Survey Report Summary

2021 DMF Survey Wellness Report cover

Robbie’s Hope is an organization with a straightforward mission: cut the teen suicide rate in half by 2028. It is DMF’s honor to partner with such an impactful organization, as we all aim to become a voice for those suffering in silence. Written by kids for parents, the Robbie’s Hope handbook is filled with useful tips and resources that will help you start a conversation about mental health with the kids in your life today. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Robbie’s Hope for all they’re doing for teens and families nationwide.  

Download a copy of Robbie’s Hope Adult Handbook by clicking on the image below.

Robbie's Hope Adult Handbook cover image


Local Resources

If you or someone you know is has suicidal thoughts or is in urgent need of mental health care, call 9-1-1 or 9-8-8 immediately.

For local organizations near you, please refer to the list of contacts below:

National Suicide Hotline


The Village Family Service Center

Valley Christian Counseling Center

Justin’s Break the Silence

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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The Healthy Tech Toolkit for Parents

Newly Released

The Healthy Tech Toolkit for Parents

A workbook containing practical guidelines and tips to help parents navigate the challenges of a screen-based childhood.

Free to download Click the button below to preview and learn more!

Newly Released

The Healthy Tech Toolkit for Parents

A workbook containing practical guidelines and tips to help parents navigate the challenges of a screen-based childhood.

Free to download Click the button below to preview and learn more!