While there is little doubt about the impact smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices can have on kids, parents should look into their screen time rules and habits, as well. As it turns out, parents have a lot more in common with their children when it comes to excess screen time than we usually think.
As much as it is easy for teens to get absorbed in the digital world, the parents face even more digital challenges. The work-related communication has become more an more integrated into what was previously family-time only. The world news is always in the palm of your hand.
Technology has reshaped our lives over the last 10 years, and we are only just beginning to understand all the consequences. Enough research data supports the claims that excessive screen time can impact the physical and emotional development in childhood, and the new data also reveals that technology is transforming the way we interact as a family, too.
The addictive nature of social media and instant availability of almost everything you want affects adults as much as it does children. And, if you as a parent can’t provide an example of how to use the smartphones and other digital devices in balance with your family life, children have less opportunity to learn this on their own.
Parents today are in a unique position when it comes to dealing with the screen time balance. The challenge modern parents face here is to be present both mentally and physically with your children, with undivided attention and free of digital distractions, as much as possible.
Additional challenge you are facing is that, unlike your parents, you need to create digital boundaries for your family. On top of all the boundaries that protect your kids, you also have to consider creating the screen time rules that outline how you and your children approach smartphones and digital media.
The boundary setting works best when you start with yourself. Your children model their behavior by mimicking what you do. Here are some of the screen time rules and practices you might recognize that open up space for your children to imitate:
Smartphones and interaction through device might be taking away a vital segment of face-to-face interaction, even in family life. If you are focused on the world displayed on your screen, there is less opportunity for you to see the behavioral expressions that accompany what your child is saying.
Direct interaction is only one example of how multitasking can interfere with family life. Kids and parents, each absorbed in their devices and barely talking to each other during family meals is another example. While you’re engaged with the screen and virtual interactions, you are not communicating with each other.
You might feel you are accomplishing more by simultaneously juggling the work, family and social life from the tips of your fingers, but in reality, you are losing important aspects of each area. This is why family device use rules and balancing the screen time for you and your children can make your life richer.
Technology is here to help.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to start establishing your family screen time rules, Sowi Screen Time Balance is available on Google Play for free.
Nikolina is a psychologist (BSc) and a school counsellor. She focuses on writing about childhood development and other mental health topics in an easy-to-understand and fact-based manner. Nikolina’s writing about mental health matters relies on acceptance and mindfulness-based psychotherapy approaches.
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