The pandemic has been tough on kids. Online classes, more time at home…kids could be excused for spending more time in front of screens. While it’s true that technology has some amazing benefits, there’s this:
It’s addictive. The rewards from using it make a child want more. The habits formed by repeated use change the brain.
Technology is deliberately designed to present one alluring option after another to hold the attention of the user. The behavior patterns that result from repeatedly shifting from one image to another, from one link to another, make it hard for a child to focus on reading a book, solving a problem, or working on a project.
These are the horrible side effects of an otherwise helpful technology. Instead of using it wisely and in moderation, kids overdose on it.
According to Dr. Meghan Owenz, author of Spoiled Right: Delaying Screens and Giving Children What They Really Need, there are life-affirming ways of reducing time spent in front of screens. She recommends guiding them to spend time on activities that help them grow strong as individuals:
- Social activities. Time spent interacting in person with friends and family help them learn relationship skills.
- Play. Self-directed fun requires focused time and helps them learn problem solving skills.
- Time outdoors. Time spent out in the world, especially in nature, enriches their perspective.
- Work. Time spent on projects, homework, and chores lead to achieving goals, which builds life skills and boosts self-esteem.
- Literacy. Reading and writing expands learning and builds vocabulary, which is the essential foundation for critical thinking skills.
All these activities have enormous benefits and require kids to spend less time in front of screens. Yes, computers and phones are amazing tools. But parents need to respect the dangers and help their kids use technology wisely.
The solution is to arrange for kids to spend a lot more time on activities that nourish their healthy development.