Is our child busy with gadgets even after online classes?
Is he irritable and frustrated when not given any devices?
Do they have disturbed sleep patterns due to over usage of gadgets?
Are real-life experiences being replaced by digital ones? Instead of playing hide-n-seek, children are playing video games?
Are they trying to be manipulative while secretly using the phone?
Do they still feel bored even after extended screen time?
Is the content they are watching meaningless and random, just for the sake of watching?
Are we as parents giving in to their demands for our momentary peace of mind?
Then, Dear Parents and Guardians, it’s time for their DIGITAL DETOX: Our children are exhibiting real addiction to screen time.
In a simpler language, Digital Detox refers to a period of time during which a child (or any person) disconnects and disassociates from all electronic and digital devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets, PS4.
Having said this, we understand that a full “Digital Detox” may not be a feasible option right now during this Pandemic. The closure of schools to maintain social distancing and subsequent transfer of education to a digital platform nationwide, the use of the internet, and social media have massively increased. Also, the hours of isolation at home are taking a toll on us and our children’s mental wellbeing, thus the use of smartphone devices has risen comparatively. Many parents are still working from home and have relied heavily on screen time for months just to get through each day with their children. For a lot of children, devices are how they have stayed connected to friends and family. So more than ever we are grateful for all the many ways in which technology is helping us feel connected, even though we may be physically distanced from family, friends, and work colleagues
Hence, we need to make careful choices on how we let our children use screens to protect their physical health and mental wellbeing during these difficult and unprecedented times. Experts call it “Screen Hygiene” which asks a very crucial question:-Is the continued screen time use helping me, or is it harming me?
We will now talk about some tips on how we can slowly incorporate digital detox into our child’s daily routine.
- Be a role model: Time and again, we have been drawing attention to one major point-our children take cues from us and we need to set an example for them. Thus let us put our phone down and try to cut down on mindless scrolling on social media or too many notifications.
- Set up a gadget-free zone: That one corner of the house which will have no access to any gadgets but a lot of physical toys, drawing sheets, or a cozy cushion for the child to lie down and stare at the ceiling.
- Lots of family time: Let’s make a strict rule about no screens during mealtimes, no mobile while watching a family show on TV, no tablets for reading books together!
- No devices before bedtime: Put the charger away and keep the mobile in some other room. We know the impulse the moment we see the phone next to our bedside table.
- Incorporating physical activity: Government has lifted many restrictions on lockdown, so we can now step out to the nearby parks or go for a ride or even a vacation of course keeping all the safety measures in mind. If not, then there are a lot of indoor game options that can keep our children productively engaged and we can spend time together as one happy family.
- Show them screen time report: Yes sometimes a reality check is very important to give them a jolt. If our child is overusing screen time, many apps can track the average usage. This can be an “oh no” moment for many of them and us, adults, too.
- Be the bad cop: Last but not the least, it’s ok to be the bad cop now. We have levied a lot of relaxation on our children in the last few months of lockdown, but we must understand that going forward online classes are important hence any other form of the extended screen time will harm them. Let’s bring in some strict rules and discipline.
Yes, indeed, we cannot unplug all devices at a go but we can slowly reintegrate screen time to find a manageable amount of usage. The key when cutting out screen time is to replace it with meaningful or healthy activities OR NOTHING AT ALL (because a little boredom set in can be a good thing for children)
Benefits of Digital Detox:
- When a child is getting time to focus on social and emotional skills without the usage of any gadgets, he/she gets an opportunity to understand more in depth the meaning of technology and the space it should occupy in their life
- “Out of sight, out of mind” is a classic example of digital detox in children. Children are easy to keep engaged; we just have to play it smart.
- Digital detox helps in recovering from stress often generated by overexposure to social media and other digital stress.
- With digital detox, we can help our children focus on real-life social interaction and reconnecting with nature.
- Gradual detoxing helps in eliminating digital dependencies, making him feel more in control. A child who prefers typing on a laptop will have to express his feelings on a sheet of paper. This helps in improving his writing skills. Vega school has done an elaborate blog on this, please click to read.
We may see some amount of “withdrawal symptoms” in our children during this phase of detox as they may feel empty from within in the absence of a gadget, but we need to be supportive throughout the process. They might have trouble in self-control or seek attention in different ways. They may also throw tantrums about topics which used to interest them before. These behavioral issues will go with time when they gradually make peace with their new routine.
This is where boredom may set in, and trust us, sometimes being bored is not bad at all!
The points mentioned below will help us understand the “benefits” of boredom.
- Boredom leads to creativity as children try to come up with fun ideas to play in the absence of screen time. Creativity is one of the 21st-century skills for the children of the new world. It teaches them to think. Not remember.
- It helps children to strengthen their grit and resilience.
- Self-awareness and mindfulness arise within the child as he/she tries their best to introspect with the feeling of emptiness.
- A bored child will always work hard to make their relationship stronger with parents and siblings. These are the best ways to strengthen the bond of love.
- No wonder, boredom will make their childhood happier as they will land up doing funny innovative things which will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Thus digital detox may lead to boredom but this in turn will generate creative thinkers for the future world.
We at Vega Schools, Gurgaon, provide open learning spaces as classrooms to our learners where they get the opportunity to let their imagination soar and create something new daily. Feel free to contact us for more details.