A year back I had done a post on why you should stop your kids from watching TV and how it worked wonders for my kids. The post had gone viral and had also been featured in UK magazines. This worked in my household for a good four months and those were the most enriching months for us as a family, then we went back slowly to watching TV for a few hours every week. It has considerably lowered but not ideal. We are not an ideal family, we have our flaws and I am not here to act all ‘holy’. This is a real person’s blog and I accept that we couldn’t sustain no TV for long. But this little experiment made an impact on me and I have abstained from watching TV for the last seven months. But this post is not about me, it’s about how TV has impacted family time in the real world.
I recently went to a friends house after a long time and we were four families meeting up. The parents told the kids to play together in another room and after a while we realised that there were unusually quiet . When we did look we found that someone was on the laptop, someone was on their smartphone, some kids were watching TV or playing with iPads. I felt sad as we had arranged to meet with these set of friends after a long time and kids instead of bonding were occupied in their own virtual world.
This happens in families too and sometimes when we do switch off all smart devices, the family hardly has anything to share. Is it alright to leave the kid like this ? How will it affect the family and the child in the long run in his/ her social behavior? These were some questions in my mind and I turned to Freyaz Shroff of KurNiv Kids, for the answers;
There is powerful evidence today to prove that excessive screen time, be it television, video games or simply texting friends affects healthy brain development and lowers sociability in children and teens.
For instance, in a study of 10,000 16 year olds to 19 year olds, researchers in Norway found that the longer the young person spent looking at an electronic screen before going to bed, the worse quality sleep they were likely to have. Lack of sleep or unhealthy sleep patterns have a direct correlation with health ailments such as obesity, diabetes, improper functioning of the liver and kidneys and also creates extra stress on the heart in the long run. Additionally lack of sleep leads to lower functioning of the pre-frontal cortex hence limiting attention span and the ability to “think on your feet.”
Excessive screen time also increases the chances of depression and anxiety in teens. It also makes it more difficult for children to develop healthy brain patterns of attention and interrupts the normal functioning of the nervous system.
It’s not that your pre-teens and teens don’t want to talk to you when you take away their screen time, it’s that they don’t know how to make conversation or what to say to you, because that part of their brain is not adequately developed. In fact, depending of the age of the child, that brain pattern and or brain circuit may even have breaks or interrupted sequences which don’t allow the teen to adequately process data for a meaningful conversation.
To slowly help your teen realign and create healthy brain roadways, try the following:
- A “screen-free” hour before bedtime
- 60 minutes of outdoor activity per day
- At least two 15 minute conversations during the day without phones or other distractions being around
- One family meal time with no screens at or around the table
Remember your success in implementing these rules will only be successful when you yourself put away your screens! Parenting rule #1, never ask your children to do, that which you would not or could not do!
I don’t only believe in preaching but most of my blogposts stem from my own failings as a mother or what I see other mothers around me struggling with. Blogging is becoming a therapy and when I write I have realised that I tend to follow these simple suggestions. This weekend we as a family spent our entire day exploring town and getting ourselves wet and dirty in the sand and not spending time in a mall. Initially met by some resistance but later on was joined in by lot of fun and laughter. Sharing with you some happy moments here.
Hoping to set some new rules for my family and hoping that you can gain from here too. Let’s join hands in trying to raise our kids technologically free. It’s not going to be easy. We will try and keep coming up with more experts on this topic and also