I am so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over.
I have wanted to write on technology for a very long time now. Over the past year, I have worked with numerous children, teens, and even adults who have difficulties with technology. Specifically, addiction (i.e. to screen time). While we may talk about things like screen time or gaming addiction half-heartedly, without the same seriousness as substance addictions, what many do not understand is that this type of (behavioural) addiction is more similar to substance addiction than different and is just as harmful. Indeed, people with substance addictions and people with behavioural addictions both present with similar core difficulties, particularly with behavioural control. People suffering from either type of addiction experience “urges” when they are not engaging in their addiction and feel better once they do. Both lead to an increase in tolerance levels. Both are associated with increased risk to developing other mental health disorders. Both can cause a loss of control and dominate the person’s life. Both can cause conflict in the person’s relationships. Both can cause behaviour problems. Both can result in withdrawal (I see a lot of this with kids, where tantrum and/or defiant behaviours increase exponentially when they game is taken away). Both can result in relapse. Both affect day-to-day life. I could go on. Bottom line: both are chronic brain disorders.
Knowing this, working with all of the complex kids with gaming problems, and witnessing the unbelievable behavioural difficulties associated with the removal of technology from the child, I was going to blog on children and technology. But, I then reflected on the world around me.
While I do see the importance of teaching technology to our children in this era of technological advances, it cannot be at the expense of other essential experiences to their development. Playing. Being outside. Experiencing the world. Connecting with others.
As parents, we are their greatest teachers. We are their greatest role models. For their sake (and for ours, quite frankly, as we need separation from technology to engage in our world, to play, to connect with friends, and to get outdoors just as much as kids), there are times where we need to put the phone down, turn the tablet off, unplug the TV, and be. I bet, when you take that time to disconnect and be with your kids, you will see a world of awesomeness. In the relationship. In behaviours. In everyone’s mood. Start small, like no electronics at the table. Or a 15 minute daily debrief to chat about everyone’s day. With no technology present.
You still have one more month of summer. How can you make it the best summer ever, free from screens?