Technology is everywhere! While it is a wonderful thing, there comes a point when it becomes too much. Since the dominance of technology is still so new, the effects of screen time have not been thoroughly studied. However, it does not take an in-depth study for some of the effects of extended screen time to be seen.
Here Watch This
Sometimes the kids are bouncing off the walls at the exact moment we parents need a little peace and quiet so we hand them a device. It has happened to the best of us. And, once in a while there is nothing wrong with it in our amped-up, technology driven world it is happening too often. As today’s children become teenagers and young adults, they are missing the interpersonal skills needed to effectively communicate. Sixty-two percent of teens admit the internet helps them function. They also do not know what to do in the absence of technology. Imagination is becoming outdated. However when parents can be reported to child services for allowing their children to experience unsupervised moments, it can be a precarious line to balance.
The Line Is Imaginary But The Consequences Are Real
In 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation studied the problem and found 8- to 10-year olds spend around 8 hours a day immersed in at least one form of media. Beyond 10-years old, our kids are spending more than 11 hours a day plugged into a device. More than a few studies have confirmed our kids are allowed too much screen time. Interestingly enough these studies are finding our kids are learning to multitask but it is at the expense of critical thinking and real world problem solving. From communication skills to emotional intelligence to physical health our children are suffering in front of screens. Media has become a full-time job for which they receive no compensation either financial or experiential.
Let’s Take A Look Back
At the turn of the nineteenth century American children were working in factories. Let’s be clear…I am not advocating children need to work in factories. At some point, we rightfully decided working was bad for them. A little more than 100-years later, our kids are locked to a screen for the same length of time. However, if we compare the two activities side by side at least the working children were gaining some valuable skills. There is no merit to achieving the high score on the latest bloody, violent video game. We cannot afford to wait for the same moral uprising which prevented our kids from working in factories.
A Peaceful Co-Existence
Teaching our kids the importance of technology is crucial to their future. Yet, we need to find ways for them to learn without allowing it to become the new addiction. We have taken time to teach our kids about internet safety but we are falling short of teaching them how to balance the virtual world with the real one. Devices should never be a substitute for parenting.
- Set limits on mindless game playing
- Encourage real world engagement
- Teach them to use technology for learning
- Caution your teens about internet addiction
- Help your teen separate virtual from reality
- Do not allow devices in bedrooms
- Remove technology from your vehicle
- Put your own devices away
Parents, these great tips will only work if you are also being a good example. Your teens watch you more than you realize. If you tell them too much screen time is bad for them as you are looking over the top of your own device, they will roll their eyes. Show them you mean it by pulling the plug and remembering life before the lure of the World Wide Web.