We love our technology, don’t we! We can’t leave the house without it. We are lost if we do. We feel we need to be accessible every minute. “What if they need to get a hold of me”, “ I NEED TO BE CONNECTED”. We check our phones throughout the day, and some people are constantly on line. Research says we check our phones 150x a day. That is every 6 minutes. Is this you or your child?
You go out to a social engagement and there are either phones on the tables, or phones in hands.
I remember a time without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, without instant access to email. We actually had to sit at the computer and check the email.
There is a new phenomenon from the obsession of our kids. It is the age of technology, but its having negative effects on this generation. The first question is, “Where is it coming from?” Do they see the adults in their lives on their phones?
How does this happen and how are our children changing? What are good strategies to overcome this wired phenomenon?
Our children are exposed to technology at a young age. Mom and dad may put little Joey in front of a movie when they have work to do. They may borrow mom or dad’s device, which in a sense keeps them quiet. It is cute that a 2 year old knows how to swipe on an I phone. But at what expense?
- Anxious children ( Try this and see… try to take away or withhold technology from a child who is used to having it for one day or even one hour). Children faced with technology withdrawal literally don’t know what to do with them selves. Many begin to cry.
- Brains that cannot turn off. The glare and the constant changing of pixels on the computer literally keep the brain awake. This can be translated into lack of focus in the classroom. The desire and habit of always being stimulated leads to jumping focus and the inability to concentrate.
- Depression. When children are in front of the TV or device constantly there is a change (decrease) in happy chemicals of the brain produced and, an over production of addiction type chemicals. They also begin the pattern of feeling they are trapped on line and need to be connected to everyone else all the time… not themselves.
- Lack of empathy. The empathy part of the brain develops less than it should. Shown by research, this part of the brain that controls emotionally being able to relate to others in a healthy manner is under developed.
- Problems sleeping. When our brains cannot shut off, our ability to get a good, full, solid, uninterrupted night’s sleep is affected.
- Correlation with metabolic syndrome. This can be seen because the kids are not outside running and playing with their friends. The combination of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure can be seen and this can lower life span.
- Bad posture. This can be seen with the amount of time hunched over the device in a forward rolled shoulders posture, head angled down and device too close. These can cause health concerns as the nerves and spine are compromised.
- Eye strain problems. Yes our parents were right ! Watching too much TV or being too close will make your eyes go cross. Maybe not crossed, but affect the ability of the eyes to work optimally. This is true of TV long ago but now we have shortened the distance between the device and our eyes, as it is hand held now.
Strategies to overcome:
What has worked in our house are the following and maybe they will be useful for your youngsters.
- No devices on school nights. Zero.
- When they do have devices they are “set up” in their bed or on the couch. They are lying down and the device is a safe distance away, “set up” on an angle. If I see the neck down and the child is seated or standing or walking the device is gone for one week. Text neck has negative side effects.
- They are allowed the devices on non-school nights – but not within one hour of going to bed. This gives their brain a chance to quiet down.
- We talk about the negative effects that overuse can cause. This brings up some of their friends and makes them realize and acknowledge that THEY can see problems around them.
- If it is a school night and they need to do some information or educational searching on the Internet we all do it together.
- We, as parents, watch our device use. If the rules apply to them, they apply to us as parents as well.
Hope these are useful.
Keep smiling and stay healthy,