Written by: Eileen Vera & Gabriela Brown
There’s no denying it: we live in a digital age. Technologies like iPhones and Alexa’s have become so ubiquitous, so quickly, that science itself still hasn’t completely understood the phenomenon. The long-term effect of these radical changes in the availability and use of technology has much to be explored. As such, while we begin to define ourselves within this new era, it is important to strive for a balance in technology usage within the household especially developing healthy habits with our children.
We are no longer at the point of isolating this revolution to a specific generation. This is not just a point of divergence between Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z. It is a global, systematic change. According to a 2017 Pew Research Study, even 42% of adults aged 65 and up use smart phones. When attempting to minimize technology usage at home, adults must begin to first look within their own screen time critically. While engaging in family time, the best way to influence a reduction in screen time from your children is to set a black out time for yourself as well to ignore Facebook and work emails.
If technology must be engaged at home, it should be in a way that still promotes socialization within a safe family setting. Finding games that can be played together, such as Scrabble or Charades, creates a healthy balance between screen time and family bonding. This is particularly pivotal because preliminary research has begun to implicate technology usage with detriments to concentration, and addictive behaviors, and impaired interpersonal communication.
We all struggle to put our phones down. The reality is we are more connected to our phones than ever. According to a new research by global tech care company Asurion, Americans check their phones 96 times a day – that’s once every 10 minutes. In comparison to a similar survey from 2 years ago, it shows a 20% increase.
An equally jarring study by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that two-thirds of infants and toddlers are exposed to at least 2 hours of screen time a day, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that anyone under the age of 2 should not even be looking at a computer, phone, or tablet due to impairment in their concentration and development. Turning off the TV or WIFI for a few hours a day, especially in a family that has kids, and going outside to play and playing with the right stimulating toys is essential to promote proper socialization, lower risk of obesity, and forge strong family bonds. It matters what we put in front of our kids.
Equally important is the example we set by our actions not our words. Consider reflecting on your own behaviors and habits as step one in instilling healthy habits in our own children. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences creating meaning and developing future actions and mindsets – let’s call it a reset of sorts. There is no better time than the present for most things in our life and a good pause for a self-check is not exception. Re-adjust where necessary, practice delegating a bit more and remove things off your plate which are simply burdens with no return on your time investment. Be honest with yourself and accept your imperfections, yet create a space where you work on them either by reaching out for help or disciplining yourself to change your mindset while throwing away old ineffective habits. This simple task will help your self-growth, make you happier and ultimately result in you becoming a more effective, positive and loving parent. It’s important, nothing is more important in fact.
Despite some challenges to reflection and being honest with your conscious, the impact is clear and effective. Technology has changed the way we parent, yet social interaction for healthy development begins at home and is more important than ever. Well-developed social interaction skills begin with parent-child relationships and play a critical role in developing their positive self-esteem, ability to build relationships, and ultimately for acceptance into society.