Like every parent in this century, I struggle in most cases with accepting technology as a core piece of my children’s’ life. It’s very difficult for me to accept a life that looks so different than what I had myself. Where play, socializing, entertainment and learning all become part of a virtual world. What’s more worrying is the fact that some of it is really great for the children, but most of it is really hindering rather than empowering. So how and when do you draw the line? What are the signs that your child is getting too much technology? Here are my thoughts on this;
How and When to draw the line?
I have three words for you; Observe, Analyze & Decide.
- Observe your child’s balance & influence of activities; if they are becoming more alert, tense, isolated, less cooperative, less able to concentrate, overwhelmed – then maybe they need more outdoor, centered activities or exercising. I encourage you to go beyond measuring balance by calculating time. Examine how helpful some of the activities are to them at a given moment; i.e. what are they doing online? Playing or chatting or surfing?
- Analyze try to reflect on some of the behavior happening (positive or negative) with how much/less of it is associated with technology. Then find alternatives/replacements that are as engaging or attractive. Hint; include your child in this whole process- enable them to take ownership.
- Decide mutually on where is this line going to be drawn; whether it’s a specific number of hours, or when certain signs take place or maybe just assign new activities that will take away from technology time. That way the focus won’t be on what will be missed but rather what will be enjoyed.
What are the signs?
To me these are mostly behavioral signs, which are more meaningful;
- Stress level and tension; are the shouting yelling and acting out un-necessarily and without a rational explanation for example? Or are their reflexes within normal range?
- Level of alertness and concentration; are they able to concentrate on other matters of life such as eating, studying, playing or even concentrate during a conversation? Are they showing signs of over stimulation? Sharp movements, responses and reflexes?
- Levels of creativity; when we stopped TV, my daughter started making projects, DIY activities, writing, drawing, reading – she also showed signs of curiosity to learn new things like never before. Reflect if your children have this same curiosity in their daily life and encourage that “you both” create a wider space of time for it
- Socialization; are they making friends? Do they play and share stories of wild adventures with their friends? Or do they talk about the cadged they have and play with it together all the time? Or do they have difficulty making friends?
- Outdoor and exercise; my daughter hates exercise, all of them so asking myself if she is getting enough exercise was a nightmare – what I did instead is replacing that question with “does she run enough? hop enough?” and by time my answer began to be yes.
- Emotional management capacities; when children are overwhelmed they tend to have less capacity to manage their emotions. That is usually due to their high stress levels at those moments. Reflect on your child normal behavior and wonder about his/her ability to manage emotions. Put in mind however, that this ability is also influenced by how much you train/teach them how to manage their emotions- they don’t learn that innately.
Going through this reflection and observation, enabled me to better understand the importance of technology in my daughter’s life but in the same time acknowledge what are realistic and nourishing boundaries. How do you work around technology in your children’s life?
Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.