As parents, I think many of us feel overwhelmed by the amount of new technology out there and we stand no chance of keeping up with our children. As soon as we become familiar with one medium, it has become ‘unfashionable’ and our kids have moved on to the next big thing! We live in an increasingly digital world – one that is very different from the one that most of us grew up in – and I for one, am finding it both worrying and mind boggling. One thing I do know is that left to their own devices, my children would happily spend all day and night perched in front of a screen.
My Embarrassing Children
An awful thing happened to me the other day! My dad came round for a bit of a catch up with me and the kids, and as it was a lovely day, we decided to start the BBQ. Before I even had time to register it, I noticed that my son and daughter had both sneaked their iphones out of their pockets and were deeply engrossed in their own little worlds. Questions from their grandad went completely unanswered as they were both totally unaware of anything going on around them.
I quickly disappeared into the kitchen, shouting at them to follow me. Once I had them alone, I told them how rude they were being and demanded that they put away their phones and join in the conversation. This was met with arguments and moans about how our grown up conversations were, ‘SO BORING!’ I decided to issue a challenge. Each of them was to initiate a conversation with their grandad and chat with him for a couple of minutes about something they thought would interest him.
Watching the two of them try to come up with a topic of conversation was painful to say the least. My daughter eventually managed to mumble something about my dad’s up-coming holiday, but I had to jump in and rescue my son, who had no idea what to say. I was mortified!
The Dangers of too much ‘Screen Time
Most of us are probably aware of some of the potential dangers of too much screen time, but here are just a few of the more serious consequences:
- Health issues such as ADHD, tendonitis, sleep and eating disorders.
- Stifling of imagination and creative ability.
- Affects communication skills (as demonstrated above).
- Social and developmental problems such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem
I would like to delve a little deeper into the last bullet point, and highlight how children of all ages can be affected by one, or all, of these problems.
A recent health study claims that children who spend more time in front of a screen tend to experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and emotional distress. One of the reasons for this, is the pressure that children can be put under from social media and cyber bullying. Too much screen time is also responsible for limiting children’s opportunities for physical activity and face to face social interactions with family and friends.
How Can We Help Our Children?
Monitoring the amount of time our children spend in front of a screen is obviously one answer to some of these problems. I know, as a parent myself, that this can be extremely difficult and I am not going to try and talk about this here. However, about 12 months ago, as I was looking for answers to lots of different life questions, I came across something called ‘creative visualization’ and this has proved to have a dramatic effect on me and my family. Because I loved this technique so much, I decided to record my own guided visualization for my two children to listen to. The recording is filled with positive messages that help to build self esteem and generate a feeling of confidence and well-being. My kids love listening to it (even though they don’t like to admit it) and usually play it at least once a week at bed time. You can listen to the audio for free on my website www.rosyandme.com I hope you enjoy it.http://www.rosyandme.com/