5 Ways to Help Your Kids Unplug
It’s the end of a long day and you’re settling down for a nice meal at your favorite restaurant when the fighting begins. “She is sitting in my spot!” “He just breathed on me!” “That is my toy!” You’re giving your spouse the eye of “what did we get ourselves into” as your children scramble and bang their silver wear on the counter. In that moment you remember you downloaded that latest game for your child and it can save you. This new game can come to the rescue and make it somewhat plausible that you will make it to the point of the food arriving when you can eat in peace without a chicken nugget being thrown across the table or into an unsuspecting person’s lap. We’ve all been there, and thank GOODNESS for our sweet little devices that make these sanity saving moments possible. How did our parents ever go out to eat when we were little? Oh, that’s right; they didn’t, because they didn’t have these tiny devices to offer much needed distraction at times like this.
Here’s the thing. Technology is awesome and wonderful and quite frankly amazing. But, as with everything else in life, finding a balance can be a struggle as we and our children can get so used to having easy entertainment or distraction and it can become so easy to rely on it. Regardless of the approach your family takes with technology, you can lead a successful, happy life with it whatever you decide to do, the trick is in finding the correct balance that works for you and your family. Small children, teenagers, and parents may all have a different amount of what is deemed as appropriate and here are some ideas to help you find that healthy balance no matter what stage of life you are in with your family.
Create family guidelines to keep your use in check:
Designate a daily quiet time.
I try my very best to get the kids outside or doing something active during the morning hours so that in the late afternoon they can rest with something quiet. Sometimes this means that they have quiet time in their individual rooms, or on other days this could be some alone tech time. This is where you find the balance that works for you!
Use technology as a motivator to get their work done.
I hope I am not alone in using tech time as a reward for getting things done around the house. In our home, chores are to be completed before play; this is not a new concept to be sure. Although, you might find ways to mix it up so that the motivation goes a step further. Is there a new app your child would like to try? Have your child work towards earning that new game. You could also set up a reward system for the amount of minutes they read is the amount of minutes they can have on a gaming device. Change up the Wi-Fi password so your teen is required to earn access by cleaning the toilets that day.
Just get them outside.
One of the best ways my family did this for me growing up was by going and doing things together as a family that made screen time a non-issue. Go for a hike, camping, boating, fishing, swimming, or on a bug hunt. If you are the parent of young children it will often be that YOU as a parent have to be the disciplined one in making this a priority. As your children get older it will become harder as they will most likely have access to their own devices. Find ways to connect in the great outdoors or in an activity where they won’t have time for a tiny screen.
Unplugging at meal time.
Studies have shown that meal time is one of the best times for parents and siblings to connect. For families with adolescents, a UCLA study, showed shared meal time was associated with reduced depression, reduced substance abuse, and less delinquency. Make meal time a priority and if you’d like you could even make a game of this, that whoever reaches for their cell phone first during a meal is then responsible for doing the dishes! This can be a fun way to challenge each other, even the parents to be present with the people they are with.
Brainstorm ideas together.
Take the time to turn this venture into a family affair. This could be a great opportunity to ask your kids for some ideas of things they would like to do together as a family. Some easy ideas are puzzles, games, crafts, cooking, sports, or reading.
As with anything else in parenting, your children will learn from your example. Try small steps to find the balance that is right for you and your family. Perhaps you could try taking a break from social media for a day, a week, a month or the entire summer! Time is a commodity that we cannot replace and using that time well is a lifelong pursuit.
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About the author:
Camille Walker is the creator of Mymommystyle.com. Camille is a professional blogger, wife, and mother of 3 with one on the way. She is a valedictorian of Utah State University having graduated in Family and Consumer Sciences Education. She loves to play with her family, spend time outdoors, read when she has a minute, and share her adventures and tips on MyMommyStyle.com that she writes with her cousin.