With technology evolving at a rapid pace, devices such as smartphones, tablets, televisions, laptops have integrated into our everyday lives. As technology becomes increasingly portable and accessible, it can be difficult to know when to keep them aside. More so, if your 12-year-old is using a tablet to learn something or if your 8-year-old is using a smartphone to read stories, you don’t want to restrict them from using it. However, excessive screen usage can lead to many unhealthy habits and even health problems in kids.
According to a recent Times of India article, staring at screens for a long time can cause early eye-sight problems, hearing issues and even affect communication skills. If you have started to notice that your kids are developing unhealthy habits due to excessive screen time, maybe it’s time for a digital detox.
The Importance of Digital Detox for Children
Screens have the ability to act like pacifiers on children. However excessive use may have negative effects on their overall development. Here is a list of reasons why digital detox for children is imperative:
Lack of Social Interactions
To adapt to various social environments and have harmonious relationships with people, it is essential for children to develop social skills at an early age. Excessive screen time may hamper the development of social skills in children. It may cause them to not interact age-appropriately or become socially withdrawn.
Mental Health Issues
The excessive use of social media has created a culture of comparison and has been linked to numerous mental health issues, especially in children. This can leave them feeling anxious and inadequate at a very early age.
Low Physical Activity
Heavy use of digital content can cause lethargy in kids. This greatly affects their energy levels and makes them reluctant towards physical activity or various forms of play.
Higher Risk of Lifestyle Diseases
Children who lack sufficient physical activity are more prone to lifestyle diseases such as obesity.
Using screens in the night reduces the release of a sleep-inducing hormone known as a Melatonin. This could not only affect the quality of sleep in children but also affect their ability to handle the next day’s school routine.
Strategies to Help Your Children Unplug and Detox
Before you put these strategies in place, let your kids know that detox could get a little difficult. At the same time encourage your children to share their suggestions and make them a part of your strategies.
Limit Your Phone Usage
If you’re teaching the importance of screen breaks to your kids, you must lead by example. Start by limiting the usage of your phone when you are with them. You can think of it more as a family digital detox.
Create Phone-free Spaces
You can create phone-free spaces at your home. We recommend the dinner table to encourage conversations and the bedrooms for quality sleep.
Prioritize Family Time
Commit to spending at least one day of every week without using electronics. You can play board games, paint together, learn how to bake something and plan a meal with family members. You can even get back to nature by going on a picnic, camping or on a nature trail.
Encourage Outdoor Play
Another effective way to digital detox is to organize outdoor plays. You can simply head to your closest playground and play catch, organize sports games with your child’s friends, cycle or skate together. You see there are various options to keep busy and truly connect with your kids instead of your devices.
Digital devices can be a great component of learning for kids, but it’s our job to help them understand when it’s time to keep them aside and prioritize other aspects of life such as family time, school and playing. You can begin by simply applying the above-mentioned strategies and maintain a healthy use of technology in your household. What’s more, undergoing a digital detox with your kids is a great way to get your own screen time in check too!