Like it or not, we live in an age where technology is everywhere. Feeling confident that we will keep our children healthy in a digital age is not enough, considering they spend a substantial amount of time with technology.
While you think about how mobile devices impact your child’s social, emotional, physical and psychological well being, your children can’t imagine a world without these devices, so they don’t understand why there is a need to limit their access to such devices.
Although there is a lot of grey area when it comes to the impact of the digital age on human development, it’s always best to look out for your children’s health in a way that will make everyone happy.
5 tips for raising healthy children in a digital age
1. Only allow one hour of screen time
Managing the amount of screen time your children get to one hour a day is a good way to make sure they have a healthy relationship with gadgets. Doing this allows your children to look for other forms of entertainment, whether it is reading a book or digging a hole in the garden. This helps them add meaning to life, beyond matching candy on a screen. Creating a balance between gadget and human interactions will go a long way to develop healthy social skills for your child in a digital age.
2. Keep them active
Whether it’s for routine exercise, to spend time with the family or just to complete chores, encouraging your children to be physically active is a great way to keep them healthy in this digital age. Suggest a family game of basketball or a yoga session in the living on weekends, or sign them up for soccer or dance classes.
3. Look out for their mental health
The growth of social media and technology use has been negatively associated with mental health issues such as depression, social anxiety, and even suicide. Be alert and look out for signs that your child may be in distress. After any conflict or stressful situation, be sure to sit your child down for a calm conversation instead of leaving them with a smartphone or tablet. Human connection is always the best to help with mental health issues.
4. Help them reduce stress
Adults often forget that growing up can be quite stressful too. Just because our children don’t face the kinds of problems we do doesn’t mean that their problems are less important. The biggest problem for mental wellness does not come from technology itself, but from the stresses of the faced-paced society technology creates for us. This is why some children throw tantrums when their devices are slow or stop working, or can’t cope with the stresses of every-day life. Introduce your children to meditation and breathing exercises to for calming down. You should also teach them that the world, just like a gadget, doesn’t always work the way we want, and that is okay.
5. Encourage them to build friendships
While social media creates the illusion of increased connectivity for us, it cannot and should not replace human contact and friendships. Relying on devices to make friends in a digital age can be detrimental to your child’s social development, and can even result in social anxiety. Encourage your child to make friends and be an active advocate for their friendships by planning regular play dates. You can even talk to them about their friends — what they like, what they dislike and what they think they can do better as a friend.
Look out for Part 2 of our tips for raising healthy kids in a digital age. Meanwhile, check out these tips for fostering a strong sibling bond between your children, so they can spend more time with each other and less time with devices.