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Why you need to give your kids a tech-free holiday
10 November 2018
You’re not alone if you worry about the amount of time your kids spend online. The problem is that what we’re offering them as an alternative isn’t usually very attractive. We may be calling them to supper, wanting them to help, suggesting they do something else or do their homework. To tempt them away from one thing onto another, we need to make that alternative more appealing.
It is always harder to ask a child or young person to stop doing something they enjoy, do less of it, or move away from it. This is ‘away from’ language which will automatically provoke resistance and a sense of being judged and found lacking by the very people whose love and approval they crave. For more information about the NLP Metaprogrammes, read ‘Be a happier parent with NLP’
The benefits of spending less time online
- By delegating responsibility for their happiness to a machine, children don’t learn to take responsibility for their own state of mind or mood. They should also be allowed to be bored, because that is often when the most creativity occurs. By being constantly occupied on things outside of self, kids miss out on self-reflection which can bring great understanding and gratitude for who they are.
- Not all information on the internet is correct, they need to learn to question and reflect, be able to distinguish between well-researched and scientifically-proven content and advertising led content. By being free of tech, they fall back on their own amazing resources for creativity and imagination. By coming up with answers for themselves, they take chances, risk getting it wrong but importantly also getting the huge confidence boost when they get it right for themselves.
- Constant stimulation means that their mind is never still, this can make it difficult to sleep and allow the body’s organs to recover and develop as they need.
- Real people don’t behave as people do online. They hesitate, backtrack, make mistakes, correct themselves, take time to answer and engage. By being with people in real life, kids learn how to create rapport and get on with others, take it in turns to speak and ask questions. They can exchange hugs and cuddles, be seen and heard in real-time which is a fundamental need of all human beings.
- The internet is a solitary environment for many, although it may also be the only way kids get to hang out with their friends after school. When it’s a solitary interaction they don’t build skills of sharing and considering the needs of others because as soon as they are bored they can just switch to something else, another game, or conversation. In reality,children need to learn to accommodate other people’s needs.
- The online environment is usually inside and it is well known how much healthier it is to be outside in the fresh air, with plants and trees, exercising and being with others. The benefits of being outside include:
- Increase in vitamin D levels which protects against osteoporosis, depression (a very serious concern for many parents), heart attacks and strokes. Simply being outside and exposing arms and legs to the sunshine for 10-15 minutes a day gives you this essential protection.
- This research also makes the point that kids spend 6 hours a day sitting down whereas being outside they are twice as active.
- Light makes us happier. In 2010, researchers at Essex University proved that outside exercise in nature, improves mental health.
- Being outside improves concentration and reduces stress, with specific benefits being experienced by children with ADHD.
As parents, we need to model the behaviour we expect of them so be prepared to cut back on your own tech life and be available to do things with them, ideally outside and exercise - related such as sport, walking the dog, walking to the shops, going swimming or just hanging out with them. Start a discussion with them about the benefits of spending more time doing other things, and being outside. Ask them what they’d like to do. Focus on what they want to do rather than what you don’t want them to do!