Food and digitalization have so much in common. We ‘binge’ sitcoms and stay logged in to our social media ‘feeds’. And who doesn’t want to be a couch ‘potato,’ spending an occasional evening in, surfing the net or watching T.V.? The analogy is also apt because an excess of either one – the screen or food – isn’t good for the mind, body or soul. And much like a fad diet, a complete digital detox isn’t a durable solution to this problem, neither for you nor your child.
In 2015 the family technology education, non-profit group, Common Sense Media conducted a survey that revealed that teenagers spent nearly 9 hours on an average a day, using media online. For tweens between the ages of 8 and 12, the standard was almost six hours a day! Now, these statistics may not seem surprising to parents since children these days want to spend every free minute with their smartphone. And as parents, there is no way to ensure otherwise, because lecturing, nagging or even having strict limitations on internet usage doesn’t always work. While you can be a helicopter parent when your child is under your roof, there’s no stopping him/her once they are outside the house with a phone in hand.
Therefore at NFK, we believe that beginning a healthy digital diet at home can go a long way in ensuring your children develop a healthy digitalization routine. Here are a few tips to assist you:
Techniques for parents on how to make your home a digital diet zone:
• Plan Fun Evenings at home – Have a board game or karaoke night that ensure that your family nights don’t mean each one of you spending time on your phones.
• Create a designated no gadget zone in your house, e.g. the dinner table. Try having some crayons and blank paper for the toddlers to colour in, even as the older children and adults talk about their day.
• Have a digital detox day only once a month where the entire family can be disconnected from the outside world and spend some together time. Go away on a staycation, preferably to a place with a low cellular network, so you don’t give in to temptation easily.
• How often do parents complain that they have ‘no time? Think of what you could have accomplished in the time that you spent online on a specific day. Ask your family members to do the same. Now tack up all your responses on a pinboard so that they can serve as gentle reminders to you and your family members. (E.g. an hour of browsing online = the time it takes to create a home-cooked pasta from scratch).
NFK tip – Children mirror the behaviour of parents and other adults around them. So merely nagging your child or assigning them fixed screen time, even as you stay glued to your phone or iPad isn’t going to work. Focus on increasing offline interaction with your child instead, and ensure that whatever time you spend together as a family is completely screen-free.
It’s time to try the digital diet for your family.
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