“Dinner now? I’m in the middle of game.” “Can I just finish this video first?” “Wait, I need to answer this text.” Have you ever heard these words before? Or perhaps something similar? ENOUGH! Wouldn’t it be nice for your kids to have a break from all of this technology? Can you imagine two to three weeks in your home with your children not using technology? Is it even physically possible to pry away devices from their hands? It is possible. With winter break just around the corner, why not try to give your kids a tech-free holiday? There are so many reasons why this is a healthy choice for your family and especially for your children.
Screen time has many negative effects
Time and time again we hear about the negative effects of too much screen time. Too much tech time can damage children’s psychological health (Edward-Elmhurst Health.) Children can have general moodiness after spending too much time with technology. Many are restless and have trouble sleeping after an evening of gazing at the screen. Emotional outbursts have been linked to too much screen time. Some children may even develop an addiction to technology. In extreme cases, parents have been attacked by their kids when they threatened to take away a device or disconnect a gaming system.
Screen time can also negatively affect the way kids interact socially and emotionally with other people. They lose the ability to gauge common human emotions. It was recently reported that after just five days of being tech-free, kids could better read emotions of people. (NPR) It turns out the more the kids interacted with others, the better they were at understanding other peoples’ feelings.
Dangerous and inappropriate material is available
Often what is being shown on the devices really isn’t healthy and positive for developing minds. And sometimes it can even be dangerous and inappropriate.
Have you watched a game of Fortnite yet? This sensation has hundreds of millions of players worldwide. Children are exposed to shooting and violence, and they win if they kill everyone else in the game. Many families would find this inappropriate for their kids.
Most of the world has experienced YouTube by now. While many of these videos are fun and age-appropriate, without proper monitoring and parental controls, kids are free to see anything on this website—truly anything.
Social media sights (like SnapChat and Instagram) can also have drawbacks. You cannot always guarantee who is reaching out and chatting with your child. There are major issues of online bullying and sexting throughout schools these days.
Sometimes kids are exploring other sites that are not appropriate. There are even sites that target teens and try to get them to buy a fake ID online - with fake id reviews websites to match. There’s no running away from the fact these are readily available and easy for your teen to access.
What your children could be doing instead of using technology
Sometimes the harm isn’t what your kids are doing on devices; it’s what they are not doing because they’re spending time on devices. Every hour spent using technology is an hour where they are not playing outside, having a face-to-face conversation, reading a book, meditating, laughing at a friend’s joke, exercising, or having a real-world adventure.
What might this tech-free holiday season look like?
Bring out the board games and the playing cards because the family is going to interact! It will take some getting used to, but kids need to learn to have fun without technology. As a family, you can cook together, make crafts, and take day trips to local museums and libraries. You can get outside and take walks or start a new workout routine. When the kids need downtime, they can color, read, sleep, or just learn to sit and do nothing. This is such a valuable skill. Will this adjustment be tough? You know it! Will it be worth it? YES! When you get to look at your kids’ faces and see their eyes not glazed over and their bodies moving and engaging, it will definitely be a positive change that is perfect for the holiday season.