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Digital Detox: Helping Kids Strike a Balance Between Screens

>> May 2, 2018

It’s no secret that we all want our families to be happy and thriving. However, in today’s culture, there are a variety of pitfalls that can derail our sons’ and daughters’ happiness. While we can name a myriad of potential dangers, one area we need to focus on is our digital devices and screens within our homes. They have become prevalent and invasive in almost every aspect of our daily lives with our kids spending an average of 9 hours every day in front of a screen.

That is more time than most of us spend at our full time jobs!

This statistic is eye opening, drawing our attention to the need for a digital detox and learning to strike a healthy balance with screen and technology within our family units. Yes, our children’s beloved devices might be impacting our sons’ and daughters’ development, health, and relationships in some surprising ways. Thankfully, with a little mindfulness and awareness, we can reclaim balance in our kids’ lives by preventing digital overload.
The Need for a Digital Detox

Technology does have a time and place in our lives. After all, we are raising digital natives that can’t remember a time before the Internet or wireless technology. As tech evolves and becomes more ingrained in our lives, kids need to know how to properly handle and navigate the digital realm.

If screens and devices are overused, our children are missing important face-to-face interactions with those around them. Screens also reduce the amount of time kids spend playing and exploring the world around them. These lacks of interactions can hinder emotional, cognitive, and social growth, which makes it difficult for our children to learn, develop meaningful relationships, and read emotional cues.  

To complicate matters, there is a strong correlation between overusing social media and feelings of depression and anxiety in our kids. We also need to consider rates of cyber bullying have tripled! This can lead to some serious and disheartening situations. After all, we want to build up our kids, not allow them to be torn down.

The fast paced nature of devices have been found to trigger addiction responses to games, social media, and the rapid access to information. The constant screen stimuli is altering the pathways in our children’s developing brains, which leads to addictive behaviors and the need for faster input. It should also be noted, that glowing screens emit lights known to interfere with sleep patterns and too much time using devices can cause physical ailments, such as: sore joints, neck problems, poor posture, sedentary lifestyles, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Helping Kids Find a Healthy Balance With Screens

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. Technology connects our kids with ideas, resources, knowledge, and enhanced communication that wouldn’t be possible 20 years ago. This makes it imperative we help kids balance technology so they can reap all the benefits without suffering any of the pitfalls associated with overuse. To help with this process, we have listed the following digital detox tips for helping kids strike a balance between screens:

     Designate zones in the home that are technology free. Avoid allowing devices at family dinners and out of bedrooms. Keep devices in common living areas, to provide time to use technology, while providing safe havens for them to unplug.

     Avoid unlimited data on cellphones and other wireless devices. Kids typically will be more careful about time spent online if they have to be mindful about data limits.

     Take up a family game night. To make a digital detox more appealing, find activities to occupy the kids’ time. We recommend board games to enjoy some unplugged family bonding and laughter.

     Observe a curfew for technology. At a set time every night, have a “lights out” policy when everyone, even parents, power down screens overnight.
     Let children earn screen time. Allow kids to earn a set amount of time in direct correlation to the amount of time they spend playing outdoors, reading, helping around the house, or studying. For example, for every hour, give them 15 minutes of screen time to use during the week.

     Create a family technology contract. Draft a document outlining all expectations and consequences for using technology devices in your family. Writing a technology contract together will prevent miscommunication and get everyone on the same page when it comes to technology use.

     Discuss why we need to balance screen time. Be honest and let children know that too much of a good thing can be bad for us. Begin an ongoing conversation about technology and the role we should give it in our lives. With a little awareness, kids will be empowered so they can make better choices for themselves.

What tips can you share for helping kids with a digital detox?

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Welcome to my blog. I'm a home maker, a stay at home wife. I'm just an ordinary woman who has interest in reading, working at home and learning to write. We live in Bogor, Indonesia.
This blog contains articles in family topic.
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