As parents there are about a million rules we ‘should’ be following- ‘Your kids use too much technology’, BUT ‘Your kids need to know technology because of how the world is evolving’. Where is the happy middle ground you ask? Here is some tips to find the balance.
1. Your brain on tech. Critical damage happens to the areas of the brain that help with attention, focus, situational processing, social understanding, and resiliency. The problem is that they don’t have to wait patiently for something to happen and the brain will start to choose immediate gratification because of the dopamine response instead of real world connection (which is harder to get). Think of the time you patiently what for gratification as exercise for your brain. If we don’t have to wait, our brain loses the ability to wait. How much time is too much? Research keeps it vague- but about the time you start to ‘zone out’ is when you should be done. This can be as little as 20 minutes.
Check out this awesome article that goes into detail about how technology affects our brains:
2. You disconnect. Leading by example is the strongest teaching tool as a parent. That means that you are going to have to reduce your electronic time as well, so that your kids see that it is the family norm.
3. Make time for one-on-one time with each kid. One-on-one time is important in that we all get caught up in our busy schedules and often times relationship building is put on the back burner. Helpful tips to making this time happen is make this time consistent and don’t forget about it. Even if your child seems less than enthusiastic to spend time with you, let them pick the activity and keep doing it. It will get easier the more you do it and as the relationship starts to build stronger.
4. Find hobbies/family activities that are not plugged in. We want to make sure that these activities are actually fun and they are actually excited about doing it. It may take some trial and error, but keep looking until you find it.
5. Do something that no one in the family has done before. This puts everyone on the same ground floor and you get to learn something together.
6. Start now with helping to develop their self identities. Includes knowing their values, interests, flaws, strengths, personal goals, and how to find their inner calm.
7. Change of environment. Go to the pool and swim, take off your shoes and get your feet dirty. Having a change of environment clears your head and get your blood moving around our stagnant bodies.
8. Experiment with the senses. Try different and strong foods- this brings you back to your body, aware from being numb or idle, and you diversify your experiences.
9. Learning to Manage. Come up with a plan to how much electronics will be allowed in your family. Every family is a little different- so you need to find your balance. You want to make it so doing non-electronic activities is not a ‘chore’ or ‘terrible’ but that family members also get to use technology in a productive or enjoyable manner.
My Challenge to you: Figure out when your family can unplug. Many families have whole days where they don’t allow technology to be on. Others make certain times of day off limits or areas in the house.
Happy unplugging friends!
– Jessie the Therapist