Are your children operating in an overload mode? With all the advances in technology and inventions in the 21st century, our children should be advancing as fast as technology is being created. However, it seems like the opposite is happening. Our children are antsy, very frustrated, and have no patience. Their friendship skills are lacking and they act lost when communicating with others.
When my children were young, I was against most digital devices. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to ban them completely, and didn’t really believe banning them all together was the answer. After all, I wanted my children to understand and be able to operate the latest technology so they could advance in their careers in the future.
We learned to compromise and make adjustments for our family when it came to technology, to those things that were competing for our children’s attention. Making decisions for the latest technology is not an easy task for any family, and there is no one-stop-solution either. What worked for our family may not work for yours. And what works for your family may not be the answer for me or others.
What we can do, is learn from each other. I like to use the grocery store method. I go to the grocery store knowing full well that there are zillions of items to choose and buy. But… I don’t buy them all, I just get what I need at that time.
The same principle applies when taking advice from others. I listen and take in what they say, but only use what I need at the time. Just as the grocery store doesn’t get offended if I don’t buy every single item, I expect my friends and advice-givers not to get offended if I don’t use one of their methods.
What is competing for our children’s attention?
Today’s technology has become the primary babysitter in many homes. Even before current inventions and advanced digital technology, many of us parents are guilty of sitting our children in front of popular kid’s shows for a couple of hours so we can get a little house work done. (SEE INFOGRAPHIC BELOW FOR TECHNOLOGY & CHILD STATISTICS)
Part of the challenge today is that technology is much more engaging than what we grew up with, and therein lies the danger. Virtual reality is much more exciting, daring, risky and free of parents than plain old television.
Our children are learning they can simply engage in a game and get instant gratification. When a child returns to reality, they can have a hard time processing truth and reality. They become over stimulated.
When these same children that have been using modern technology are sitting in a classroom, they have a hard time sitting still, they aren’t able to process their schoolwork. Why? Because it’s simply too slow, boring and not very stimulating.
Children’s brains are becoming accustomed to high levels of stimulation, leaving them vulnerable when it comes to processing normal activities, such as imagination, creative play, school work, chores, socializing and functioning around others.
Not only are they being over stimulated, but they are loosing touch with human beings! They are learning to connect with technology, not parents, siblings, extended family or even friends. When there is time for a hangout at a friend’s home or a park, children are having a hard time relating to the other kids. Conversational skills are lacking and learning to find something to do other than playing a video game is becoming a challenge.
Technology has created endless fun. Who or what parent can compete with that?
We as parents, as humans, will never be able to create an artificial world for our children to play in. And that’s the way it should be. Children need to understand reality and what’s in the real world. They need to feel and touch the real world to understand it and be able to function in it. They need to be bored sometimes and find something to do that requires them to think and use their imaginations. This includes teenagers too.
The “Do-Over” mentality has truly stunted our children’s understanding of making mistakes. We all make mistakes and we always will. We are capable of fixing things, but it takes hard work and creative thinking. But there are times we have done something that we can’t fix or take back. We can’t alway do something over or hit the reset button, or have endless lives. When children are so enthralled in the digital world of do-overs, they may not ever understand the reality of fixing problems, or understanding the gravity of wrong choices.The “Do-Over” mentality has truly stunted our children’s understanding of making mistakes. Click To Tweet
Social interaction is becoming a favorite pastime. This shouldn’t be happening. Can you imagine a world where no one talks physically, in person to each other? Everything is done over digital devices, watched on TV and answered by electronic voices. Will this be the way our children choose a president in the future? It’s just about how we’re doing it already today, but will it get worse?
Some of us work virtually, but most people don’t. Most people work in offices, hospitals, and school where they need to talk and interact with others. Are we limiting our children’s future by allowing them to get lost in technology?Instant gratification is becoming a growing disease among children. Click To Tweet
Instant gratification is becoming a growing disease among children. Getting what they want now is becoming normal! Technology allows for that.
If you need an answer, Google it, and there it is. If you want a new video game, order it on Amazon, and receive it the next day. It’s too boring here, get my phone out and play a game. Instant gratification does not alway prove to be the best gratification. Usually there is no work involved. Just demands. Children are missing out on learning hard work, with lots of thinking and brain power to get a great result and solve a real problem. That’s true gratification. Children are losing the chance to experience what it takes to survive in this world.
What can you do?
- Time: Limit technology use. You can limit it to a certain amount of hours in a day, certain time of day, or to only weekends or school breaks.
- Parameters: Put parameters in place for using technology. Something we did, was the Reading Rule. Our children must read half hour everyday, then they could play video games or watch TV. The amount of time they were allowed to use technology was based on how much time they read. If they read 1 hour, then I allowed them 1 hour of play time. This might not work for your children, but this is something that worked for us.
- Ratings: Agree on what they are allowed to watch or play. Set the rules for violence and sexual maturity levels.
- Friend’s Homes: If they visit a friend’s house that has games you don’t approve of, your child must know his boundaries, if he breaks them, then they don’t get to visit that friends house. Instead that friend will have to come to your house where you can regulate playing time and types of games.
- Engage: You will need to engage with them. Many times, parents are on digital devices as much or more than their kids. How will your child learn to connect with people if you are not there to make and teach that first connection? Things you can do to connect with your child: play board games, Nerf wars, biking, hiking, swimming, reading together, color together, make a craft, yard work together… Another great way to engage with your child, is to ban the use of digital devices in the car and restaurants. Instead, talk to your child and direct them to the world outside. Engage in important conversations, questions they may have or lessons you would like to teach them.
- Boring Times: Teach them how to be bored during down times. They need guidance on how to find activities to keep busy. Don’t do the activity or thing for them, but instead, point them in the right direction.
- Gratification: Train them on delayed gratification. If up to this point, they have got everything they want (or close to everything), as soon as they want something new, begin a delay process. When they ask to play a video game, tell them to wait five minutes, then they can play. Be sure they have a watch or clock nearby to time the five minutes. If they follow the directions, then allow them a set amount of play time, if they break the directions, even by one minute, then choose how you will discipline for that time. The next time the video game question arises, set the delay again, if they succeeded the first time, make the delay longer. Keep going until your desired outcome.
- Social: Help them learn social skills. If they are used to playing video games all the time, then their focus has not been on people. They will need to learn to put away the devices, look at others in the eyes, and talk with them. So many children are unable to look at you while you talk to them. I don’t know about you, but that drives me a little bonkers.
Setting parameters and rules for technology can be challenging. It can be hard to stick to those rules as a parent, especially during our busy times. It is much easier just to let them play. But we must rise above those times to teach our children to interact with the world. To learn delayed gratification. To be creative and imaginative.
Our children are the future. We must take the extra effort to help and guide them to become great leaders of tomorrow.
Resources for Technology and Child Statistics:
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