You can probably tell by the glazed, wide-eyed stare.
Or the dull “Huh?” that answers repeated attempts to get your child’s attention.
It’s technology overload.
Their brains are washed by constant beeps, alerts, texts, graphics, and hypnotizing video.
A digital sea of information and social media constantly pulls them deeper.
And it all seems too good to miss.
But the more they indulge, the more anxious they seem.
Less patient. More lethargic.
It’s too much.
Your kids need your help. Technology overload can be hard to overcome without guidance.
Lure them back to the real world.
- Set Limits. Limits, really? Yes! Regardless of how they balk, kids feel more safe and connected to you when you set guidelines. Being able to say, “My mom won’t let me text after 8:00pm,” is a lifeline they secretly appreciate when the whole wide world is in the palm of their hands, clamoring for their attention.
- Lead. Show kids the way. Reassure them that their fear of missing out on the next gaming level, text, or post can be overridden by the next face to face conversation or the family outing they’re about to have. They really do look up to you. Intentionally put your technology down for them. Your kids want you to show them restraint. Beat technology overload together.
- Play. You know, maybe your children just need help remembering what’s so great about three dimensional play. Send them outside. Bring them lemonade and sandwiches, invite the neighbor kids over. Remind them that they can run, jump, and dance far away from Kinect sensors and Wii-motes and still have fun. Just keep them outside until they get the hang of it again.
- Seek. Help kids choose a real adventure. A lot of kids get wrapped up in gaming because the excitement of an unpredictable journey seems possible only on those glowing screens. Show your child that you can chase a similar feeling in your neighborhood, community, or city. Plan a trip or, even better, jump in the car and drive, just to see how far you can get in an hour. Seek out new sights, sounds, and people. Take photos with a real camera, use a paper map, play I Spy.
- Reconnect. Your kids may spend so much time online because that’s where they truly believe their “friends” are. Encourage your children to deepen relationships. Assure them that you’ll buy the snacks if they bring some of their friends home to hang out. For younger kids, plan play-dates and meet-ups at the park, keep free-time with real people a fun alternative to solitary, digital play.
- Schedule. Make screen-free moments destination points during your family’s day. Help your kids look forward to starting the day with you, not their phones, by choosing to chat during breakfast instead of checking Facebook. Inform your family that the hour between homework and dinner is time for a board game or bike ride. Keep bedrooms tech-free and reinstate bedtime stories, prayers, or an end-of-the-day recap before lights out.
- Challenge. Bravely cut the charging cord. Tell your kids that you’ll be letting the devices run down. Then put them away for a week. It may feel unbearable at first. But make it a contest. Spend time doing all the things you complain you don’t have time for. Then come together at the end of the day to marvel at your accomplishments.
Praise your kids for choosing to do things that are more productive. Let them know how wise and mature you think they are for prioritizing their time well.
Reward them for tackling technology overload and winning.