With the mid-term break just around the corner our blog this week offers some tips for getting your kids started on a digital detox. In a world surrounded by technology it is always a good idea to build in a regular digital detox and that’s not just for the younger members of the family! With all the demands on everyone’s time it can be real challenge to find the time to implement a detox of any kind.
Decide as a family about the basics. This might sound obvious but it important to be clear about when and for how long the digital detox is going to be for. Over a weekend is often a good place to start. You could decide to begin on a Friday evening or even a Saturday morning and then end the detox on Sunday night. Doing it over a weekend can feel a lot less daunting than trying to do it over a weeklong period. Create a balance. Make sure that there are plenty of distractions on offer to help your child to replace their use of technology with other activities during the detox. The busier you all are the less likely you are to be missing technology! This can also be a good time to introduce a new screen/tech free activity that your child has always wanted to try. This is a good way to promote balance in the use of technology through experience. Lead by example. Although it can be a challenge to take part in the digital detox as an adult due to your work schedule or other commitments. Kids do really learn by example and if they see you engaging with a digital detox, they will be hugely encouraged by that. It may take more than one attempt to get it right: The first time you try a digital detox as a family there are bound to be teething problems, that’s completely natural. Just learn from those and try again in a few weeks’ time.
Encouraging teenagers in particular to spend time offline is undoubtedly challenging, however it is very important. The continual development of face to face social and emotional skills cannot be underestimated. While teenagers are focused on the now, they sometimes can fail to see the future implications of their current actions. For example, in only a few years’ time these young people will be employees and they will have to be able to make decisions and interact with colleagues and work for the most part within a team. All of this involves face to face interaction and the ability to form productive professional relationships. It is crucial that these interpersonal skills are developed from an early age and are reinforced and bedded down during adolescence. It is a delicate balance between encouraging the use of technology and all the positives that brings while at the same time promoting time spent offline.
Talk with your child about why you want them to have a balance in relation to the amount of time they spend online. It is always a good idea to suggest that this is something for all the family to try. Teenagers like to see their parents also have a digital detox! Prioritising a family activity that does not involve technology each week is a great way to introduce a digital detox. Encourage your child to spend time interacting face to face with their friends as opposed to messaging them. They will get to see a real reaction to what is being talked about instead of a managed response via a screen. Learning to read body language is another crucial skill that will stay with them long into adulthood.
In a world where technology can appear to be omnipresent a digital detox can seem impossible. However, it’s very important that children of all ages are given the time and space to develop skills that don’t involve looking at a screen.