If your child has a screen in their room, remove it.
As a parent of five children, ages 9 – 23, I understand the temptation to occupy a child to allow for “me time.” Additionally, with the prolific use of technology in our lives, its second nature to grab a device to occupy our time, or to take a break from the stress. We are overwhelmed as parents, usually both parents working jobs school activities, sports and music lessons. As much as we love our kids and desire the best for them. We are burnt out and tiered, handing over a smart phone to a five year old for a few moments of quiet time.
Of course this is going to happen, this is normal, and its important that we as parents have quiet time to recharge so we can be at our best. Handing over that device works. However, it works too well. There is an unfortunate side affect over time. As that five year old gets older, they have learned to connect to a device when mom and dad are stressed. They also learn that if they get stressed, this distraction helps cope and alleviate the difficult thoughts they are having.
As adults we understand the important of stepping away from our stress and sometimes finding entertainment to distract us for a moment. But as adults we also understand that we need to face our fears, address the difficult and uncomfortable thoughts and situations in life. Its in these moments that our personality is defined and our values displayed. We learn who we are in the quiet moments of reflection or meaningfully connecting with others we love and trust. Do we teach our children to do the same?
They also learn that if they get stressed, this distraction helps cope and alleviate the difficult thoughts they are having.
Any type of screen device, remove it and prevent any from entering. Some of the most difficult emotional and mental challenges children are facing, is an inability to be alone with their own thoughts and struggles. Children are already inundated with distractions, as parents we can provide opportunities for our children to face and wrestle with their own thoughts, struggles, loneliness, boredom and pain.
Unfortunately, if we as parents allow devices in their room we are removing the much needed and healthy solitude to discover themselves. Those quiet moment to emotional, rationally and intellectually define themselves. Allowing devices in the room teaches unhealthy coping and avoidance. There is no medication, few therapeutic interventions that are more successful to alleviate anxiety, depression and unhealthy behavior in children then removing devices from their rooms and instituting age appropriate device usage.
Take the challenge to remove and manage screen time for children. It will decrease childhood anxiety, behavioral issues and create more meaningful family connections while also helping that child to discover their true personality.