Before we know it, the school summer holidays will be upon us, and parents everywhere will be desperately trying to combat cries of, “I’m bored!”. This summer, battle the lure of the screens, put the phones down and pack away the X-Box and get your kids outside instead. It’s time for the digital detox, and we’ve got some ideas to help you.
Do we need a digital detox?
In today’s world, it’s almost impossible to avoid screens, but excessive screen time has been linked to behavioural problems, sleep troubles and even increased aggression. There are some warning signs to watch out for. Does your child struggle to entertain themselves without some kind of electronic device? Do they argue with you when you tell them to switch off? Are you noticing bad tech habits in your family, like using phones at the dinner table, smart phones next to the pillow or texting each other from different rooms instead of talking? This could mean it’s time for a break.
What are the benefits?
Researchers at UCLA found that after even a short break from their devices, children were better able to identify emotions in others. Replacing screen time with outdoor time reduces stress and outdoor play has been shown to boost problem solving skills, creative thinking and safety skills. Putting the kids on a digital break can help the whole family break their bad habits with technology too, so everyone’s a winner.
This sounds great. How do I do it?
There are lots of things you can try. To start, set ground rules, such as no phones at the table, or the TV only being on during certain hours. Make sure the adults are following the rules too!
During the summer holidays, plan family activities that don’t involve a screen. Go on bike rides, check out the zoo, or just get into the garden and kick a ball around. You’ll enjoy the time with your kids, and everyone gets a rest from technology.
Try a true detox with a short break. Whether it’s a week or a weekend, you could book a family camping holiday, or time away somewhere remote (far away from Wi-Fi and phone signal) and leave the electronics behind. Play outdoor games, pack the board games and enjoy quality family time without Twitter interrupting.
If you’re impressed with the benefits, why not book in a regular detox? Nominate one day a month as a no-tech day. Plan something fun to do as a family instead and kick the habit together.