As with all cultural and technological changes, there are positive and negative consequences of the digital age. There are always those who hold on to the past for dear life, and others who jump right in without a second thought.
Since most adults utilize devices for work and play, just like our children, maybe it’s the balance part we need to work on.
When Was The Last Time You Saw Your Child’s Eyes?
It sounds kind of funny, but If you can’t remember, then you probably have both a problem and little life balance. As parents we should be setting the rules and standards for what’s acceptable and what is not. If your child’s nose is always in their smartphone, something is missing, but it’s not too late to make some changes.
Start By Setting Boundaries
With our active lifestyles it may be difficult to have a family dinner every night, but when we do have that opportunity, make the most of it. Create a new rule that there are no devices at the table. No one gets up to answer a ping or any other sound, and that includes the parents. It may be difficult at first, but the payoff of making conversation, looking into each other’s eyes, and sharing the day’s ups and downs is well worth it.
Set a turn off time. Don’t allow devices or TV after bedtime. Sounds so radical! Kids need their sleep to stay healthy and to perform well in school. It’s the perfect time to charge everyone’s phone.
New driver in the family? Set the guidelines immediately. No texting, talking on the phone, and no distractions. It will keep them and their passengers safe.
Monitor Their Online Life
Although this is a touchy one, monitoring online interactions protects your child’s physical safety, self esteem, and social well being. The worst negative consequences of the digital age are online bullies and cyber predators. Know whom your child is communicating with on social media, and note their emotional reactions after. Talk to them about bullying and the risks associated when chatting with an unknown person.
Provide Distractions And Get Them Moving
Find ways to get them outside or play family games inside. Go to the movies, then discuss the movie over dinner out, with no phones, of course. Encourage them to learn tennis, soccer, or play baseball.
Support Real Friendships and Relationships
Young folks can get isolated and lonely when they only have shallow online connections. Depression, anxiety, and our growing rate of suicide can be connected to “so-called” friends online. Make it a point to allow children to have peers over for dinner, or invite them on family outings. One to one, eyeball to eyeball relationships are the real kind that give our kids the social skills they need for their future.
Find The Balance
Technology presents amazing benefits for those growing up today. Our children have educational opportunities at their fingertips, plus the research and knowledge that can be instrumental in making a child love learning.
Guide them to see the beneficial consequences of the digital age, but guard them from the dangerous effects.
Contact Pediatrics of Northeastern Pennsylvania for additional suggestions regarding your child’s behavioral health if you are concerned about their digital usage.