4 min read
The reality is, in today’s society, digital is unavoidable. Our kids are exposed to screens, from TVs and iPads, to games and apps on our smartphones. Some schools require tablets or laptops for curriculum and homework. For many of us, within our professional and home life, we seem to always be switched on, carrying our smartphones everywhere, and our kids see this.
The important question to ask ourselves, is whether our families are digital dependent, or simply digitally enhanced. Or, how do we ensure our kids are being enriched with technology rather than entrapped by it?
There are many benefits in the digital world, including for our children. During long flights or road-trips, hand-held devices can be a god-send in distraction and entertainment. With educational apps, technology can make learning fun and interactive. And of course, those who grow up with technology are better adapted to work with it in their adult lives (our kids are already better than many of us at it).
But also, studies have shown that kids are spending up to 60 hours per week consuming media1 and less than 60 minutes playing outside.2
Do you live with a digital addict?
Do you relate to any of the following? If you’re screaming ‘YES’ you’re not alone.
- Devices are a total distraction in getting ready for school or bed.
- Face-to-face conversations become face-to-screen conversations.
- Devices are an uninvited dinner guest.
- You’ve had to un-invite this guest from the dinner table.
- You’re often seeing zombies staring at TV’s.
- Conversations become one-word responses.
- Many conversations are about technology or get distracted by it.
- Conflict builds over power-off time for kids and parents.
- You’ve resorted to hiding the device, or removing the batteries.
- You’ve had to change the WiFi password.
- Your kids are finding ways to sneak screen time in.
- Your kids groan and complain when they have to do anything else.
- You’re having trouble getting your kids outdoors and active.
London-based psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham told the Daily Mail UK the time to start changing things is “when electronic devices start to have more influence over behavior than anyone else or anything else, when children become very distressed when technology is removed from them." 3
“Establishing a maximum daily time allowance can be a good place to start”, he told the publication, and “it’s also about making sure adults leave their phones off or on silent during meal times and when with friends and family, as children learn behavior from their parents.” 3
Dr Graham also speaks about the need for a balance of activities which help kids, including an increase of their physical activity, and to include times they play with other children in the ‘real world’.3
Whether we like it or not, the increased use of technology in today’s society is making it almost impossible to escape some elements of the digital world in our family lives. The trick is managing your family’s digital consuming behavior and shifting these behaviors from digitally dependent to digitally enriched.
If there’s a way you can use technology to motivate your kids to get outdoors and active, you’ve got the best of both worlds. And if you can add social time with family and friends into the mix, you’re onto a winning combination. In today’s digitally-enriched world, we need to merge the passion for digital with getting our kids outdoors and active, shifting them away from using technology in a way that is inactive (and we know that’s easier said than done)!
1. Common Sense Media. (2015, November 3). Landmark Report: U.S. Teens Use an Average of Nine Hours of Media Per Day, Tweens Use Six Hours [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/landmark-r...
2. Importance of Outdoor Play - Dirt is Good. (2016, March). Retrieved from http://www.dirtisgood.com/uk/truth-about-dirt.html
3. Daily Mail UK (2013, October). The five signs your child is addicted to their iPad – and how to give them a digital detox. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2479109/The-signs-child-a...