As the world becomes more connected through technology we all struggle with controlling the amount of time we spend on our devices and in front of screens. While it can be difficult, did you know there are benefits of unplugging for kids that is important for their growth and development?
Disconnecting From Screens Connects People
Research has found that “unplugging” from smartphones, tablets, and other devices increases real and better quality relationships with other people. When we’re plugged into technology all the time, we miss out on important connecting time with our family and friends. When kids aren’t distracted by the screen in their hands, they are more likely to notice and participate in their surroundings. This encourages the development of healthy social skills.
Unplugging Means Better Sleep
Quality sleep is essential at every stage of life, but for the growing mind of a child, it is especially important. Studies show the effects of blue light on circadian rhythms and sleep deprivation. In addition, exposure to electronics may interfere with the nervous system, adding another layer of problems to falling and staying asleep. Some of the best methods such as no electronics an hour before bedtime, creating a standard bedtime routine, and setting a fairly dark, quiet place to sleep are important factors that also contribute to kids getting better sleep. Electronics in the bedroom can impact their effectiveness.
Being Connected Creates Anxiety
Ever experience that need to immediately reply to texts, or are you constantly checking your phone for new messages or emails? Research has found that “the internal experience today is one of hyper-anxiety” created by our devices. Many parents already see the benefit of unplugging kids and themselves, and I hope we will see a cultural shift back to living in the moment and focusing on the people we’re with. In the meantime, let’s all make a conscious choice to unplug ourselves and our kids regularly. It is important to establish technology-free zones during family time, such as dinner and playtime, to build the emotional and social health of our kids and ourselves.
Here are some fun ways to unplug your kids:
- Have weekly “family time” to spend time together doing an activity, like a game or puzzle, or spending time together playing outside
- Limit screen time with timers and for every hour of time “plugged in” spend an hour unplugged and using imagination with dress-up, dolls, or action figures
- Use crafts to give kids a way to be creative and express themselves
- Remember to practice what you preach; young kids especially learn by following examples
The first Friday in March is National Unplugging Day! Let’s make it the start of regular unplugging for more family time!