Technology evolution is something that can never be ceased. The time for getting on the streets, hanging out with friends, socializing time did find a decrease with the increase in digital discoveries and innovations. These were evident on average days. What about the pandemic? There was a boom in digital consumption with all the curbs, isolations, and social distancing!
A kid doesn’t start using electronic devices on its own. It always starts with, hey why don’t you try this game, or why do always allow them to use it if one has an elder sibling. As a parent to prevent chaos, you tend to influence co-using. That is where the consumption begins and continues to eternity.
If a raging bull is suddenly tied into a shed, it doesn’t passive down in a jiffy. Likewise, what else can we expect when kids were confined to homes? When the parent’s tolerance reaches the saturation point, they pull out their dagger, the smart phone. Parenting during the lockdown wasn’t easy. Handling their work from home and engaging the kids simultaneously became a challenge. For a breather; caregivers introduced digital engagements to the kids. But when the institutions started with their virtual classes, devices became a need.
The days changed from “Don’t touch my phone to here’s your own!”
With the zoom rooms becoming the classrooms, keeping the kids away from digital has become an impossibility. Anything that is done for a productive purpose is good, right? But is it limited to only productivity?
I can listen to the lectures or I may switch off the video, mic, and my attention.
I can read for the tests or open tabs that I can refer to for my answers.
I can log in or ask my relatives/friends to log in with my credentials.
The online meetings have paved the way to the loss of social skills, time management, conversational skills, body language, lack of eye contact, exaggerated expressions, lack of integrity, and what not?
The OTT platforms have been the most successful during the pandemic. With the abundance of content, it has become a pride factor to complete a movie/series. If you haven’t watched a series, you are called lesser cool. FOMO insisted that teenagers have to stay updated, watch all content, play all the online socializing games.
The effects of higher screen time have been a significant concern. Lack of sleep, behavioural problem, loss of social skills, lack of time management skills, obesity, sometimes violence. The newest cool is; “Hey, I binge-watched it, bro!”
ABC News network conducted research with doctors and clinical psychologists on this and inferred the following.
Binging activity is triggered by Ventral Tegmental in the central brain where Dopamine (a chemical messenger that sends messages between nerve cells, playing a major role in feeling pleasure) is released that is sent to Nucleus Accumbens in the Basal Ganglia. It taps into the most survival and pleasure-basedcenters in the brain driving us to Binge. Prefrontal Cortex is more rational, implies complex behaviors, planning, personality development, and so on. You need sleep; turn it off is the message sent by the prefrontal cortex which is battled by the dopamine to binge-watch it. The constant battle between these two makes us exhausted, causing fatigue and several other physical and mental health issues.
Should I put an obligatory stop to my child’s digital time? It is better to validate how much time is too much time for your kid. How to identify that?
If most of your answer is yes, you need not have to worry. Else, monitoring and managing are needed.
Limiting screen time should not be a hard and fast rule on the kids instantly, as it may make them rebel. Technology desire/addiction is a delicate area where compassion supersedes. UNICEF has done a series of research with subject matter experts to tweak a few steps to reduce screen time. Some of the inputs are listed below.
Priority must be given to what they watch more than the duration
This is where digital monitoring comes into place. Get the tips from digital monitoring tools to keep a check on your kid’s digital consumption. If the child is more productively consuming, the lesser the concern.
Children want to stay engaged and in the spotlight. The more you let them idle, the more they crave. Dedicated playtime with family members can improve their cognitive, communication, and socializing skills.
Digital free meal
Turn all your electronics off during at least one meal a day. This will give way for family conversations, dinner time games, or opening up with your concerns to each other.
Phone call with friends
Digital to get away from digital? What are you suggesting? One-on-one phone calls or even group calls can get the time from not staring at the screens. Phone calls with friends enable empathy, good peer relationships, whereas staying in touch just on social media platforms is connectedness but there is no social interaction.
The thirst for wanting to do more can be quenched by developing offline hobbies and developing new skills.
Boredom is fine
Kids are, most of the time, creative. They are capable of finding their way to defeat boredom. Let them get bored for a while and find a solution independently. Do not take the assistance of the devices as an immediate solution. They are merely a temporary distraction.
Be an example
Walk in the right direction to lead them towards the right direction. Kids take inspiration from their parents in the first place. So, the parents need to inculcate digital free hours in their daily schedule to inspire their kids in that aspect.