By Dina Zeldon
Technology is here to stay—like it or not! Families must learn to navigate in a world filled with screens and digital distractions. Parents are often warned of the physical, mental, and emotional effects of technology on children and adults alike. How do they best respond to studies and the commonly cited findings? Here are some ideas for moderating technology in your life.
Parents should examine their relationship with technology by admitting their own struggle with screen-time limits. They are the first example to their children about moderating screen use. Remembering to put down the devices and interact with family members goes a long way in setting the tone for their children.
Families that develop and enforce their rules regarding technology have a better understanding of limits. Limits on time, as well as website and app approval, need to be discussed ahead of time. If children feel that they have a voice in the why and how of their family’s digital ground rules, they are more likely to abide by them.
No-Device Mealtimes are one way to ensure family interaction. Interpersonal and communication skills suffer when we are plugged in and relating on social media. Mealtimes free of devices will encourage and develop communication skills which are necessary to succeed, even in a technology-saturated world. Especially during the holiday season, requesting that everyone keep devices away from family time may be a good start to future meals and gatherings without devices.
Cyber-Free Sundays, or even a portion of a day, can provide rest for technology weary brains. Families can brainstorm non-digital ways to spend time together such as outings to the zoo and other local attractions, enjoying nature while picnicking or hiking, or participating in indoor or outdoor games. Again, if children are allowed a voice in generating ideas and making choices about how to spend time as a family, they will be more enthusiastic about those activities.
Provide alternatives for children to enjoy on their own. Encourage real life play by setting aside time for screen-free activities, depending on your children’s ages and interests. Activities they enjoy on a screen can be encouraged in real life as well. Cooking games can inspire junior chefs to create snacks and even meals with your help, and cyber architects can be introduced to classics such as Lincoln Logs and Legos. Hobby kits and books that go along with these interests encourage children to stay unplugged a little longer.
In today’s world, families cannot avoid technology. While there are drawbacks to technology, if parents are intentional and careful about what they expose themselves and their children to, families can enjoy the benefits it has to offer…all in moderation.