Do you want to keep your children away from mobiles?
What about you? Are you able to keep yourself away from it?
Before I question you let me tell you that I used to spend way too much time on my phone.
But by altering my habitual routine I successfully managed to come out of its dangerous trap.
Do you want to come out of this problem?
Let me first share some research results with you.
“Most people check their phone every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications,” Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind, tells CNBC.
We’ve built up this layer of anxiety surrounding our use of technology, that if we don’t check in as often as we think we should, we’re missing out. We are now suffering from something called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out.”
Rosen’s research has shown that besides increasing anxiousness, the compulsion to check notifications and feeds interferes with people’s ability to focus.
Today I want to focus on how bad it is and how worse it can become if we don’t come out with practical solutions to restrain our growing kids from using mobile phones.
I am sure, parents of a nuclear family would understand this better.
What happens when you come back from your office, especially if both the parents are working?
You wish to relax and want your kids to mind their own business without disturbing you. You want them to remain engaged. But what do they have to keep themselves engaged with. You yourself have dumped and exposed them with all possible electronic gadgets available in the market. Most easily available being the mobile phones.
What happens when your friends come over to your place?
You want to interact with them and your young kids would just not allow you. You hand over your mobile phones to somehow manage them to keep them away. Over a period of time, they realize and hence manipulate you to give up, especially on all such occasions.
What happens when you are driving and want to engage in a conversation with your spouse, with your young kids sitting behind?
You hand over your mobile phones to your children to keep them away from disturbing you.
What happens when you wish to complete your pending office work and want your kids not to disturb you?
You hand over your mobile phones to avoid them from disturbing you.
All of this happens when you want to stay free or when you want to engage in something extremely important.
What about those moments when you have nothing important to do and you still keep checking your phones every fifteen minutes?
You are in a way displaying an unwanted, dangerous and simply useless habit in front of your kids, who over a period of time start emulating you.
This is a situation with which all of us are getting hugely impacted. But have we thought of how to disengage our kids from getting into this habit? And hence save them from the enormous amount of harm it can cause.
I think we should.
And therefore I am listing a few ways which can help you and your children from the growing menace of mindless use of mobile phones.
Display demonstrative parenting and engage with them
First thing first, check how many hours as parents do you spend with your kids without any gadget. Start taking out time, at least an hour every day, and engage with them. You can engage them in an outdoor activity, any sports, game. You can simply take them out in the kids playing area and watch them play. Mind that you too will have to leave your phone behind at home.
If an outdoor activity is not possible every day, engage with them in indoor games like board games, chess, carom, or simply guide them on how to do better coloring, painting or telling them about some interesting book from the Goodreads list.
Display how to use mobile phone at home under a strict discipline
Once you are back from the office, try keeping your phone away, in an out of reach area. If your job demands to check emails or messages frequently even after office, try maintaining a schedule. Check your phone every one hour for five minutes and then keep it away. If your job is not so demanding, put off all the notification buttons and alerts. Turn it into ‘only a phone call’ mobile to receive important incoming calls.
This demonstrative way of using a mobile phone would keep your children away from the mobile phone in a great way.
Keep yourself away from excessive use of social media
If you want to reduce the mindless checking of phones every fifteen minutes, reduce your social media use to only two applications. Check that too only every two hours.
To keep yourself and hence your kids away from the mobile phones, you should understand what all as a device it does for you.
There are reasons we use mobile phones and we cannot just abandon it completely.
- It is basically a device that has transformed into its current state from being a calling device. So it would still be required for that.
- We still need it as a text-messaging device. Although we can use laptops if the message is professional and does not require an immediate or a quick reply back.
- The smartphones these days provide us apps that help us watch movies on live streaming on the video player.
Watch movies or shows only on Television
We can restrict ourselves and watch a movie, a show or a web series only on our smart televisions. This would keep us away from our phones for two-three hours at a stretch. Reduce our chances of watching on any screen as our mobility would get restricted.
How does excessive screen time harm our children?
For young children, the excessive screen time robs them off required physical activity and much-needed sleep. Being head down on the screen while watching it might be harmful to their brain development.
A Dan Siegel of Mindful awareness research center thinks it may impede language and social development as well. It says it can delay expressive language in 19 months old.
We use music apps to listen to music on the go, which I believe we can continue to do so but under strict discipline. We should not keep our headphones hanging, especially those Bluetooth wireless headphones which come these days. It leads to extensive use.
Not many of us know but bluetooth wireless headphones have potential health risks because of chronic EMF exposure and can cause cancer, genetic damages, neurological disorders, learning and memory deficits, and reproductive issues.
Go back to the previous ways of checking time or setting a calendar
We use phones to check the time, set alarm, check the calendar and trust you me all of these can be used otherwise also. You simply need to have a wristwatch when you are traveling, a wall clock at home and office, a table clock to set alarm and a physical calendar on your study table at home and office to plan your days, weeks or months.
Maintain a discipline of using internet on desktops and mobiles
We use phones to access the internet for checking e-mails and browsing the internet for various reasons. Again this too cannot be easily substituted. But yes, we can always maintain a discipline of using laptops and mobiles as per the requirement, keep the use of the phones at the minimum. Avoiding their use at home or keeping it to the least minimum would help us greatly.
Stop mindless e-window shopping
With e-commerce at its extreme high, most of us these days shop online, which has again exponentially increased our screen time. Be it the clothes, gadgets, books, shoes, grocery items, everything can be ordered online. And because many of us are in a habit of doing window shopping, we do that online also. Try shopping through your laptop, and your screen time on the phone and the overall screen time would get significantly reduced.
Read paperback books and restrict use of eBook readers to travelling
If you are in a habit of reading books through your kindle reader or some other eReader, stop doing that and instead read physical books. Not only read but read out to your kids through physical books. This too would keep them away from phones and hence reduce the screen time. Use eReaders when you are traveling and don’t want to carry the weight of physical books. Read about How reading is better than watching videos on TV or Mobiles.
Restrict the use of mobile phones for playing video games
Help your children cultivate the habit of engaging on the playground and not on video games on phones. There are scientific studies that claim that playing video games can change the brain regions for attention and visuospatial skills and make them more efficient. But there is something that we ignore, a kind of an addiction known as internet gaming disorder. It is something that makes functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system and increases our cravings as it does in any other harmful addiction.
This will keep your children away from mobile phones for a very long time, because kids these days are obsessed with video games.
I believe these tips and reasons would help you to keep yourself and your children away from mobile phones.