In addition to my own social media detox, I have gradually been trying to pull my kids from the grasp of the screens. It’s a much harder process for my teenager, but a little easier with my nine-year-old. Right now, she’s doing about 30-45 minutes of YouTube a day when she’s with me (I’m not sure what her screen usage is when she’s with her dad)
A little story to highlight how time away from the screen can shift a child’s rhythms: today my nine-year-old and I went for a 4.4 mile walk. When we returned home, she laid down and took a nap, something I haven’t seen her do in a long time. Even when she’s tired, I have seen her fight her exhaustion to be in front of the screen or throw a fit when I took it from her. But for the last few days, we have been spending that formerly used screen-time playing board games, cooking, watercolor painting and reading, instead of being in front of screens. And already, I can see a shift in her behavior and my attention.
I am ashamed to say it, but I’ve modeled the very same unhealthy patterns with my screen use. And after some of the preliminary research I’ve done, I am not alone. Many parents are on screens with their kids beside them either on a screen as well or trying to get their parents attention. I get it. As a single parent, who works full time and has an array of projects needing my attention, giving your children the attention they need is very hard. One person can only do so much. So, sometimes screens can be an easy pacifier so you can have time to catch your breath. But that habit yields pretty significant long term challenges for kids and teens. In addition raising a teen, I work with them and I see the impact that screen time and social media especially has on their developing minds.
My social media detox has helped me to see how these patterns have not only affected me, but how it has affected my kids. I am taking steps to liberate our attention and our times from the grips of the screens. Time that could be devoted to unplugged memorable experiences together.