Technology is like a friend that won't leave you alone, has some positive and negative traits but soon, insideously takes over your life so you want to scream, "Aaah, leave me alone. Go away!" That's right. Let's be real, technology is not going away anytime soon.
What bothers me is the way we are dealing with it when it comes to our children.
We know that staring at screens is not good for you for lengthy periods of time and yet, we hand over our phones, laptops, and tablets to our children to keep them quiet. The CDC still recommends no screen time for children under the age of two, and only 2 hours for children ages 2 - 5. Not including school, which has increased the time spent on devices in the name of "fun learning," students are spending between 6 and 9 hours on screens! Yes, I said "not including school!" That's crazy!
Too much screen time can lead to serious issues for children, physically, mentally and emotionally, impacting social emotional development. Executive functioning, which is a term for functions like remembering, flexible thinking, and self-control, is compromised. There are many more children in school with ADHD-like symptoms these days with little self-control. And don't say, "not my child!" This is about most of our children. Closing eyes to it doesn't change the facts.
Parents need to take control of children's screen time and teachers need to use less technology in the classroom, challenging and developing brains. That is a fact! Pediatricians usually recommend no more than 2 hours for children ages 5-17. That's almost laughable, isn't it? In our world? Sadly.
However, combatting technology with other activities still works to round out our children and help them grow. But we must be vigilant and involved. After all, we are the grown-ups (I think...usually). We can balance the time that children spend on their phones with much needed exercise. Remember that old saying, "Go out and play?" That's a good one. "Help me set the table" or do a chore. Children love to help with chores. Have a hands-on art center with paints and sparkles, magazines, scissors, and glue sticks. It can be on newspapers on the floor. How about reading? You can read to your child or them to you or take turns reading or read aloud in chorus. Maybe there's an activity your child can help others with like carrying a grocery bag, gardening, visiting a hospital or senior center.
When children are on phones or devices, if their younger than 8, choose high-quality media for them. Be a model for your children. Try to stay cognizant with this. No phones at the dinner table. No phones at night in the bedroom. Keep an eye on what sights your child is on. Remember, as they age, they get sneakier and more adept at hiding things.
We want to challenge our children to use their brains and creativity and grow up "healthy, wealthy and wise." Support them in using technology so they don't drown in it. This is the way of raising happier children in a digital world.