We have all heard of dry July, and I think as a whole society is seeing the benefit of this sort of fasting. Helping us to regain a balance on an enjoyable habit that is fine in moderation, but of course easy to slip into unhealthy levels of consumption.
More recently we have started hearing about the digital detox. Similar concept to dry July, a digital detox is helping us to regain a balance on a habit which if left unchecked can become detrimental to our health. What are the effects of too much screen time? Research suggests that too much television can impede healthy cognitive development. Poor sleep, increased aggression, less social skills are just some of the detrimental effects researchers find associated with large amounts of screen time.
We probably aren’t aiming to reduce screens altogether, in fact, research does support that moderate use can, in fact, support learning and development and enhance wellbeing. We are all probably aiming for a better balance though. How can you install a digital detox in your household? Read on for helpful strategies that apply to the whole family.
The first hurdle you will inevitably come across is your own personal use of screens.. yes.. it is a family digital detox and that includes you. Lead by example and this means switching your phone off too! The second hurdle you will face…. The screen may be a convenient babysitter but we can’t use the iPad as a babysitter when it suits you and then requests its switched off when start feeling guilty!
Bedrooms are for sleeping and the dinner table is for conversation so we suggest making these spaces screen free. Another step is to limit screen time each day. Create a central charging station for the family, all devices are left at the charging station overnight, preventing any late night use. Most importantly, introduce better things to keep your kids occupied. Encourage them to get creative, get outdoors and be social. There are a wealth of resources online to give you ideas for alternative activities.
We suggest putting clear rules in place and then firmly sticking to them. Depending on the age of your little ones you can set these rules together at a family meeting. Write the rules up and place them somewhere that everyone in the house can see them. You won’t be the favourite parent of the year initially, but with persistence and the introduction of alternative activities, you will see the positive benefits for your kids (and even you!).
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