The digital revolution has brought some great things with it. How did we survive without Google? How did we keep ourselves entertained with access to only a few channels on our TV? How did we get hold of our friends when we were running late for a date? Well, amazingly enough, we survived quite damn well!
Our intent of this blog post was not to dwell about the past… but rather to create a discussion around the ‘dangers’ of the digital world we are living in today. More specifically, we wanted to zoom in on kids and their sometime ‘addiction’ to screens. An interesting article was published recently in the NY Post about how screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. There is a short video in the article as well if you want to be ‘entertained’.
Here are our top 3 thoughts after having read the article:
- If your child is throwing a crazy tantrum when you take that screen away from them, it is probably a sign that things have gone a bit too far. We have been there too… It is 5:30pm. Everyone is tired: kids had a long day in school, mum & dad had a rough day at work after stressing home to pick up kids from day care/school, mum and/or dad prepare dinner whilst the kids get put in front of a screen. The reaction of a child who gets his/her iPad taken away from her when dinner is ready can be quite an agitated one.. Next time, what about spending a few minutes setting up a small part of the table with some paper, some pencils and maybe some stickers – and we might actually enjoy the dinner preparation time in our house? Just a thought…
- It is always better to prevent rather than cure a child’s screen addiction. As the article says, once a child has crossed the line into true tech addiction, treatment can be very difficult. It is the same with drugs: it is better to try to treat the problem early on, rather than wait until you have do go into rehab clinics to get treated, right? We wanted to zoom in on young children’s addiction to screens, but it is quite scary to see the statistics that 18% of college-age students in the US suffer from tech addiction. So as a parent of small children, the best is probably to get some very clear routines in place from early one when it comes to screen use so that you do not end up with a ‘tech addicted’ child before school age! As the article suggests: Lego instead of Minecraft, books instead of iPads and nature&sports instead of TV.
- Introduce ‘tech free’ dinners together as a family! It has been proven that children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. We’d suggest introducing the rule that there should be no tech devices on the table when eating: no phones, no ipads, no TV… And that includes you, mum & dad! If you constantly are checking your email on your phone during dinner, it will not be credible when you ask your child not to watch the iPad during dinner. If there is something really important (and we mean REALLY important!) that has to be dealt with on your phone, we’d suggest literally leaving the table and going to another room so that the rest of the family can continue to enjoy their tech free dinner. If Steve Jobs could have tech-free dinners with his kids, so can you!