Smartphones, laptops, iPads, tablets…technology is around us 24/7. We all know our kids are not immune to it. In fact, many of them are immersed so deeply they walk around like zombies glued to their screens.
I wish we could rewind to the days when Atari was considered ground-breaking technology and the thought of having a cell phone seemed like something only the Jetsons could achieve. The reality is many kids are obsessed with their various devices to the point they don’t know how to have a conversation or use their imagination.
Market research found that children ages five to sixteen spend six and a half hours in front of a screen every day! Considering the fact that they sleep for at least eight hours a day and spend seven hours a day in school, there’s hardly time left to do anything else.
Kids aren’t totally to blame. Many are only copying what they see their parents do. Truthfully, there are times when we’re no better. I know I’ve been guilty of a little phone addiction every now and again. Do we really need to constantly check our Facebook feed to see who “liked” our latest post? I think we all know the answer to that.
That’s why we all could use a technology time-out.
I’ve tried to strike a balance in my home. While my kids are allowed to use technology on a daily basis, I usually limit their usage to 15 minute intervals. Once the time is up, they have to go and do something else that doesn’t involve a screen. Most of the time, they agree; other times, I’m “mean.” I can live with that title if the result is that my kids go out and play or use their imagination instead of being glued to the screen.
These rules are not just for the kids. There’s one for the adults called “no phones at the table”. It means just what it says. My husband and I are not allowed to have our phones at the table when we’re having a meal. This way, we can pay attention to each other and have real conversations. Crazy, I know. But, it works.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s tempting to run over and check a dinging text or go back and finish scrolling through Facebook. But, it’s also important to set an example. If kids see their parents glued to their devices, they may be more inclined to do the same. If we set the example that technology is not king, then maybe we can start to slowly unplug our kids, one device at a time.