We live in a world dominated by modern technology. Almost everything we do these days involves the use of the internet and technology, both directly and indirectly. While these advances in technology have made a positive difference in our lives in many ways, there is also a downside when it comes to excessive time spent relying on technology. As parents, we may wish we could spend more screen-free quality time together with our families. We may find that our family mealtimes are lacking when it comes to having meaningful conversations. Instead we often find our family members spending mealtime scrolling through their phones or playing video games on their electronic gadgets. Even though the advent of the internet and digital devices has changed our lives for the better in some ways, too much use of these technological advances can be detrimental not only to our wellbeing and to our relationships, too. This is where the importance of “digital detox” comes in.
“Digital detox” refers to taking steps towards finding the right balance between healthy use of electronics and taking periodic breaks to make sure we’re not fully engrossed and disconnected from the world around us. Doing so gives us more opportunities for real interaction and other healthy activities we can’t do when we’re glued to our screens. It isn’t always easy to take our kids’ attention away from their screens, especially when they’re used to spending hours of time on their devices for entertainment. The good news is there are ways to help your kids unplug from technology before it hampers their development and wellbeing.
Check out these tips to help your kids do a digital detox.
Set a good example
Young kids learn from what they observe from their parents. They notice our every action, our words, and behavior. When it comes to teaching children about the importance of a digital detox, we need to start by setting the right example.
Encourage kids to take a break from electronic devices by leading by example. Instead of merely talking to our kids about unplugging, they need to see us do it as well. If we expect our kids to be present at meal time, it’s important that they not see us constantly scrolling through our phones answering emails and messages at the table. Nor should they watch us stay up till all hours of the night binge-watching our favorite series if we expect them to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Your message about the importance of digital detox is less likely to fall on deaf ears if we practice what we preach.
Limit the hours allowed for the use of electronic devices
Another trick to help fight our kids’ addiction to technology is to put restrictions on the amount of time they’re allowed to use their screens. They shouldn’t be given complete liberty when it comes to using their digital devices. Rules need to be set to make sure it doesn’t lead to unhealthy dependence on their electronic gadgets.
Limit your child’s screen time use to a maximum of two hours per day. Talk to your kids about this expectation, and make sure they understand why their screen time is being limited. Make sure they know these rules are set for a reason, as they are intended to keep them healthy and safe.
Divert their attention to other fun activities
Electronic devices aren’t the only source of fun and entertainment. One way for your child to realize that is to encourage them to engage in other fun activities that do not involve screens. For example, you can plan a family getaway. Take a trip to the beach for the weekend, go on a road trip, or go camping. You can also plan activities based on your kids’ personal interests. If they’re interested in animals, you can visit a zoo. If they like dancing, taking them to a dance workshop or a dance class is a fun idea.
Don’t allow technology in certain areas in the home
Digital devices should be limited to certain parts of your home. There should be specific areas where your kids are allowed to use their screens and other gadgets. For example, you may designate the living room or the playroom as places for watching TV or playing video games. The dining room and bedroom, on the other hand, should be phone-free zones. Meal times should be reserved exclusively for eating, having conversation, catching up, and bonding with the family. Your child’s bedtime routine should also be cleared of screen time. Make sure all electronic gadgets are left outside the bedroom.
Digital devices, the internet and technology as a whole have been beneficial to us in many different facets of our lives. However, too much use and exposure to screens can also be disadvantageous, especially to our kids. That’s why it’s important for us to unplug and take a digital detox from time to time.
For more parenting tips and helpful resources, please visit The Pillars Christian Learning Center.