Kids today are inundated with technology, and parents often find it difficult to know how to determine when it has all become too much.
While smartphones and laptops have definite benefits for helping kids stay in touch with their loved ones and complete homework, there are also downsides to spending too much time staring at a screen.
As your child reaches the age when they begin to use electronics with greater independence, keep this information in mind about the importance of helping your kid learn how to unplug.
Understand the Benefits of Unplugging
At first glance, a kid who is engaged with their computer or smartphone looks like they are doing fine. You may even enjoy knowing that they are able to talk to their friends after school or look up new information.
Yet, spending too much time on the Internet or phone can hinder kids from developing other skills such as their athletic abilities. Kids who spend a lot of time on social media can also experience stress from constantly trying to live up to expectations of others.
Unplugging gives your child the space they need to grow as individuals without feeling judged.
Set Limits on Your Child’s Electronic Usage
Electronics should be treated like any other privilege in your household. Sit down with your kids and explain to them the limits that you have placed regarding how long they can spend on their phone or computer.
While your kid’s time limit may vary according to their age, emotional maturity and behavior, most experts recommend keeping screen time below one to two hours a day.
Designate Time to Spend as a Family
At home, you can model the importance of unplugging to your children. Set aside a special time each evening when everyone’s phones go on the chargers.
You could plan this to happen during dinnertime so that you can all fully engage in a conversation, or you could plan a special homework or game time each night.
Either way, spending time together unplugged shows your kids the benefits of interacting face-to-face with the people they love.
Counteract Summer Temptation with Summer Camp
While school rules and sports activities make it easier to limit your kid’s screen time during the academic year, parents often run into trouble once the summer begins. Older kids may turn to their video games and smartphones as a way to deal with summer boredom.
This summer, have a plan in place to counteract temptation by sending your kid to summer camp. At camp, kids are encouraged not to bring their electronics so that they can focus on spending time in nature.
Since everyone else there is engaged in exciting activities such as wilderness hiking and waterskiing, unplugging becomes second nature to kids.
Nurture Your Child’s Hobbies and Interests
A kid who clings to their electronic devices may be doing so out of boredom. Help your child find activities such as gymnastics or archery that gives them challenges to conquer.
Once your child finds activities that give them a thrill in real life, they will be less likely to want to spend their time online.
Learning how to unplug is essential for kids to grow up to be happy and healthy adults. While you will likely hear a groan or two at the suggestion that your kid put their devices away, the truth is that kids enjoy spending time engaged in real world activities.
This year, set an example by planning electronic-free family events, and provide your child with alternatives such as summer camp to stimulate their development.