Technology is here to stay, whether we like it or not. But as parents, we can’t just give up on parenting our children. We have to accept the fact our kids are from the digital age and we can’t use the same techniques that our parents used to communicate with us. So from now on, your entire focus should be to try everything new to have a positive and open communication with your kids. Today, we will cover almost everything that you would possibly need to know to for raising digital natives the right way.
Our kids are growing in a world that is always “ON”, so this puts a lot of pressure on the parents to be “readily available” at any time of the day. There are so many things happening in our lives daily that it’s impossible for us to stay available to them all the time. But if we can’t, then it all gets down to the values we inculcate in them.
Kids, ages between 11 to 18, on average, spend 11 hours a day with different forms of gadgets and electronic media. But it doesn’t mean that they are spending 11 hours straight in front of the screens. They go through a series of texts, social media and tons of other digital distractions, and most of them take place when they should supposedly be sleeping. Not being readily available and having too many distractions make the communication channel weak.
Beat the Competition
Parents should know that once they become unavailable, their kids will fill in the empty space with someone or something else. And as electronic media is conveniently accessible to anyone, you can easily expect your kids to substitute family time with movies, TV shows, etc. and once this happens, you are in direct competition with your kids’ preferences. If you have issues with your child spending too much time in front of screens, you have to beat the competition. Your kids should be able to have their priorities clear even if you aren’t available to them 24/7. So this is what you should do.
If not started early, it can take a while for parents to build a strong communication with their kids. There should be a clear set of instructions when it comes delivering you message. For example, I have made it very lucid to my kids that having iPhones and iPads or other digital devices is nothing more than a privilege—it’s not a right, and if they will ever think so, I can take their devices away to reaffirm my stance. Setting expectations is necessary too, this way, you will be teaching them how they can earn screen time. Let them know that cell phone is not an appendage. Be prepared to follow up with the consequences as your kids might gnash their teeth, or whine like little babies just at a mere thought of alienation from their cell phones. However, they will be then careful in the future to avoid this harsh punishment.
Limit screen time
When I am exchanging emails with parents, I give them specific ideas on how to limit screen time. For instance, I emphasise on a cell phone collecting basket where the whole family is going to put their phones during meal time. But if you are planning onto follow this advice, make sure that you too place your phone in the basket. The point that I mentioned above is relatable here too, because it may difficult for families to set these kinds of limitations once they have made a habit of frequently checking their phones.
Show them why priorities matter so much. We understand that technology has somehow become essential for our kids’ social lives, but we should also know that it’s impeding their progress in other aspects of life. If started early on, parents can constantly reiterate the significance of prioritising homework, chores and family time over crashing on the couch and Snapchatting.
Importance of sleep
Sleep is the most valuable resource that our kids are totally deprived of. Result: grumpy teens who are emotionally stressed and unproductive. This is why, it’s necessary that our kids give up their phone before going to sleep. This a ritual that should be started as early as kids get their first digital device. Sleep is vital, and it doesn’t matter how bad they think of you, don’t give up on this one.
If you really want your kids to focus on something else than screen time, plan something together that doesn’t involve watching movies or playing video games. I would suggest all parents to plan out thing before doing them. Playing board games and going on hikes may not seem like a 2016-kind-of-activity, but you have to try out something fun that your kids would probably like. Unfortunately, we too have fallen into the trap of smartphones and social media, so we also have to learn how to put our phone away and pay attention to what’s in front of
Lead by example
Whenever I talk about rules or plans to limit kids’ screen time, I always say that we have to teach by example. If we are constantly lost and distracted because of our phones, our kids will take that as a norm. And if we will ever tell them to put their phones down, they will raise fingers on us. Learning how to unplug isn’t just a good routine for our kids, but also for us. So make sure you aren’t going hard on your teens with this one.
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