While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis, there is no doubt that many young people in the United States and other countries remain connected and away from “real” life for many more hours than experts consider healthy for their lives in a normal development. This begins at an early stage, often with children who still do not talk and are entertained by their parents’ cell phones and tablets instead of exploring the world around them and interacting with those around them.
Parenting in a way that raises healthy, balanced children now requires more savvy, skill and self-responsibility than ever. It has been proven that over exposure to certain kinds of technology can and does increase narcissism, entitlement, and anxiety, and decreases empathy, self-esteem, and resiliency – to name a few.
Some tips to balance to Keep your kids In digital balance are:
- Become emotionally and mentally a digital health person.
It will impact the adults your children will become (which is especially more needed in this digital age). Do whatever it takes to heal, grow and evolve. Get support in breaking out of old habits and blind spots and learn to create deeper connection with your own inner world and those of your children.
- Be a Role Model to Your Children.
Young kids learn how to use technology by watching their parents, so model healthy habits early by balancing media time with real time.
- Limit screen time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 2 to 5 be limited to one hour of screen time a day, with consistent limits for older children on the amount of time and place they get to have screen time. Parents play an important role in teaching their children how to use screen time in a healthy way that can enhance daily life.
- Have “Digital-Free Zones”.
It is the only zone in the house without digital devices even if no one is around. Do this when your children are young and maintain it all the way until the day they leave your home.
- Device-Free Dinners.
It may seem obvious that eating dinner with your family is a good thing. Research provides plenty of support for the importance of family dinner for kids: Learning vocabulary, fewer behavior problems, less substance abuse, and healthier eating are some of the positive outcomes.
Practicing these healthy digital habits will go a long way towards helping us all restore sanity to humanity – one child at a time.