Mamas, do you find that your kids are spending way to much time staring at a computer screen, glued to their cell phones, addicted to video games, or absorbed by television? Here’s how!
Be strict about your own screen-time.
Sounds like a good deal, right? Mama, you know that parenting can be complex. Throw in television, computers, tablets and cell phones – and parenting becomes a notch more difficult.
When you are cautious about how you spend your time on screens, you’re not only modeling a healthy relationship with technology, but also setting a good example that will help you feel better, sleep better, and function better overall!
How Technology Impacts Your Body and Mind
Do you instinctively reach for your phone when you’re alone or it’s quiet at the moment? Do you veg by scrolling social media or watching youtube videos at the end of a long day? Can you survive without background music or television noise? While those activities are innocent and potentially therapeutic, they are actually changing your body.
Extended screen-time morphs the frontal lobe of your brain, which decreases organization, self-control, and the ability to follow through on commitments.
Extensive time on technology shifts your body’s clock. It impacts melatonin levels, sleep levels and general physical health.
Plus, screen-time impairs your relationships, may become an idol, has addictive properties, and can be seen as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Wow. Take a minute to absorb that. Mama, although technology is extremely helpful when it comes to getting dinner on the table, researching ideas for school projects, learning about your child’s growth and development, or staying in touch with extended family, it can also be a hindrance.
I know that you don’t want to impair your child. You desire to see him/her grow up to be healthy, wise, and a contributing member of society. To help yourself and to teach the next generation healthy lifestyle habits, you may need to put down your devices.
Here are 8 reasons why you need to limit your screen-time
Reason #1: You’re a role model.
Did you know that children mimic their parents? Of course, you noticed that when your young toddler copied how you carry your purse or hold your drink or lay down on the couch. The same principle applies to technology usage.
How you use technology will be closely related to how your children use technology. Implement a screen-fast (such as not using technology after dinner, or being free from devices on Saturdays). This models that technology is a blessing, and also that being free from it is a freedom and not a punishment.
Reason #2: It will boost your awareness.
Spend one day more aware of your screen-time tendencies. You’ll recognize how distracting it is and how it impacts your relationships. You’ll also observe more of what your children are doing, what they enjoy doing, their personality quirks or their behavior nuances.
Not only will you be reminded of why you adore your children, you may also notice small details that reveal why your child behaves a certain way (like getting hyper before dinner) or feels particular emotions (such as sad to go to bed because he/she wanted more time with you).
Reason #3: Your mind will work better.
That sounds crazy but it’s true! Stepping away from screens actually helps you plan, problem solve, and be more creative. Activities and family relationships will become more enjoyable without the distractions or pressure to be online.
Reason #4: You’ll follow through on your commitments.
Improved frontal lobe functions (from lack of screen-time) mean you will be better able to follow-through. You’ll have more self-discipline, better concept of your to-do list, and the impression that you have much more free time that you assumed.
Reason #5: You will be more physically present with your children.
Naturally, if you’re not distracted by social media, the ping of a text message, or your ever-expanding inbox, you will be more present in the moment. Kids often feel neglected by their technology-using parents. Mama, I know that would devastate your heart to hear your child say those words, “My mom ignores me because she’s too busy on her phone.” You will be able to offer more of your presence to your family when you set down technology.
Reason #6: You’ll be more emotionally aligned with your kids.
Similar to the previous point, you will be physically present and emotionally attuned with your kids as well. You can observe their body language, watch their facial expressions, and hear their tone of voice. During these moments, you can step in to celebrate with your overjoyed child, offer a hug to a disappoint daughter, or comfort your hurting son. Be encouraged; research reveals that quality family time helps children implement healthier boundaries with technology.
Reason #7: You will feel more rested.
Screen-time can place your brain in a state of hyperarousal. Limit screen-time for deeper sleep, increased ability to handle frustrations, and a boost of energy. This is always good news for tired Mamas! Imagine how you can be more patient with your toddler during a tantrum, can stay up a little later to listen to your teens struggles, or can be more engaged during a family activity.
Reason #8: Your whole family will have fewer tantrums.
I’m sure you know all about being hangry (hungry and angry). Screen-time and technology can cause similar responses. The more you (parents) use devices, the more likely your children are to have tantrums. When you set aside your phone or laptop and engage with your child, they feel more loved and accepted. Your eye contact and body language speak volumes. And the device that’s set to the side no longer feels like it means more to your than your kid.
How do I set aside my devices?
Tip #1: Log out of social media. There’s no need to mindlessly scroll the news feed for 500 people. Instead, stay in touch with your closest friends and family.
Tip #2: Set the goal not to use technology while your kids are at home. Print off the pinterest recipe, write down the school project ideas (or use your imagination!), and engage with the people right in front of you instead of virtually.
Tip #3: Keep office hours. Whether you work online or are a stay-at-home-mom, implement office hours. These are the strict times that you will be on your devices. Explain this to your kids so they can observe and understand your healthy boundaries with technology.
Tip #4: Make a technology basket. Whenever a member of your family is at home, their phone/tablet/laptop goes in the technology basket. Keep all charging cords here and place the basket near an electrical outlet. This reduces temptation to be on technology constantly, and is a reminder to charge up your devices before you leave home. (Trust me Mama, you want your teen to have a fully charged phone before going out on Friday night!)
Remember that change is gradual, not instant. Pick one piece of advice from above and make that change today. Next week pick another. After a month or two, you will notice the consistent trend away from technology-dependence in your home, and the new pattern and priority of relationships!