Tech detox otherwise known as digital detox, is the notion of intentionally reducing the amount of time spent on tech devices. This not only refers to limiting screen time on all devices but taking a break from social media apps as well.
Constant digital connectivity can be stressful and may lead to a number of different problems for you and your child. A digital detox encourages individuals to regularly unplug from the digital world and instead be present and focus on real-life. This is very beneficial for young children. The benefits of disconnecting from your devices may include:
- Deeper in-person connections
- Reduced social comparison
- More control over your time
- Better mental health
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Sharper focus
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved mood and sleep
- Better posture and less eye strain
How too much tech can negatively affect your children:
Younger children can become habitual users of technology at an alarming rate, which can quickly lead to screen addiction or power struggles over electronics. Long hours spent staring at screens may also impact their social development, making them uncomfortable with personal communication, making it harder for them to make friends. Excessive use of technology can also lead to more serious issues such as childhood obesity, low self-esteem, and poor mental health. As parents it is important to create boundaries to avoid these consequences.
Here are some tips that could help you establish a good digital detox routine for your little ones and for you too:
- What’s the problem?
The first step is to identify your concerns with your child’s tech habits. Do your children spend too much time watching TV or playing video games? Are they constantly on social media? What about you? Look at your own and your family’s technology habits and start there.
- Goals, goals, and more goals!
Based on your concerns, try to set certain daily, weekly, and monthly goals that you can all work towards as a family. This will set clearer guidelines and expectations, making it easier for your child to follow. Forcing a drastic digital detox on your children might be overwhelming and stressful, so start small and gradually make the detox more challenging.
Here are some simple but great ideas that you can try out:
- A monthly digital-free day: Maybe you can try starting off each month by putting away all electronics and spending some quality time together as a family.
- No-electronic weekend: Go on a camping trip or spend the weekend outdoors to get everyone away from their devices.
- Limit hours: Place restrictions on the amount of time spent looking at a screen. The Mayo Clinic recommends one hour per day for children between the ages of two and five. For children above the age five, a healthy amount of screen time is about 2 hours per day. Make sure you talk to your children about this expectation and make sure they understand why you are doing it. You decide for yourself what your own limit will be.
- Tech-free hours or zones: This is another great idea where you choose certain hours in a day and areas in home, to be completely tech-free.
- You’re all in this together!
Breaking away from strong digital habits is no piece of cake, especially for children who have become very attached to their devices. Good role models are an important part of this process for them. Lead by example. Remember, young children learn from what they observe. So, practice what you preach and follow through on your own digital detox too.
- How well are you all doing?
Take note of how well you are all doing with your own detoxes. How do your children feel? Are your expectations too high for them to cope with? How do you feel? A digital detox will work best when it is relevant to each person’s individual needs. Keep that in mind and modify your detox program accordingly! If your children are doing really well, maybe you can even come up with a reward system to motivate them even more.
- Yay! You did it.
Are you spending more time together as a family? Do your children love the outdoors now more than ever before? Are they engaging in other activities that are more mentally stimulating? Are you less stressed and anxious? If you have noticed positive changes since implementing the digital detox, then congratulations, you and your little ones are heading in the right direction.
In this highly digital age, it is nearly impossible to completely avoid technology altogether, but being aware of usage and creating limits, can help avoid unhealthy habits from developing. As a parent, be realistic about how you are going to go about this and take small steps towards the desired results. It will be mentally and physically rewarding for your entire family.