Digital detox: balancing screen time for the whole family
With excessive screen-time fast becoming one of the biggest health issues facing us and our children, let’s take a look at a few ways to rebalance and reconnect with each other.
Screen addiction is a real problem that’s affecting adults and kids alike. The presence of screens virtually everywhere, coupled with our reliance upon them, makes for a troublesome combination. Whether it’s scrolling on social media apps or catching up on our favourite show, we have all spent a lot more time in front of a screen than we’d like to admit. It’s totally understandable though! After a long, busy day, sometimes all we feel capable of is scrolling on Instagram or letting Netflix play episode after episode.
THE BENEFITS OF TAKING A BREAK
Taking a break from screens is not something we’re used to doing but it’s definitely worth considering. While it may be difficult at first, you’ll almost certainly notice the benefits once you’ve tried it. Beyond the health boost that you’ll experience from taking time away from screens, you’ll become more engaged in your real life and what’s going on around you. It happens to all of us – we miss a special moment because we get a notification, or we’re too busy catching up on the news to see that our little ones need us.
The same goes for our children. We’re bombarded with facts around how screen time is affecting their wellbeing. The responsibility lies with us parents to help our children navigate this challenging digital world without spending every waking moment glued to their phone.
WHERE TO BEGIN
Implementing a household digital detox is a useful way to ensure that each member of the family is getting some screen-free time, while providing a sense of support through this undoubtedly difficult undertaking. There are a few different routes to take, depending on what suits your family best.
Countless studies have shown that using screens, and the blue light associated with it, is very disruptive to our precious sleep. One popular way to try a digital detox is the digital sunset approach. As the name suggests, a digital sunset means that you agree to a cut-off time after which all screens (including phones!) are put away for the night. If possible, mealtimes should be screen-free, and so dinner time can act as a nice point to begin the digital sunset.
The second option for a family digital detox is Screen-free Sunday. This provides the opportunity to put all screens away for an entire day, and instead spend the time connecting with your loved ones. While a whole day can seem daunting, the benefits are huge. With digital devices off the table, it will reveal how much time you really have in your day to interact with your children, and vice versa.
Total digital detox
The most extreme option here is a complete digital detox. Yes, that means no screen time at all. Of course, phones are still allowed to be used if absolutely necessary – it’s at your discretion. Family vacations, particularly to rural areas, offer a wonderful chance to try out the total digital detox. To begin, avoid bringing any devices other than phones on your trip. Then agree the circumstances under which these phones can be used – for example, to play music or to make important calls.
Don’t underestimate how difficult this will be! A lot of us spend time on our phones to get a little bit of comfort in the day. With this removed, there may be a slight increase in tension or friction in the household. While days on vacation can be filled with trips, sight-seeing and perhaps even hikes, the evening time is when most people feel the digital pull the most. As a result, it’s important to have activities arranged to relieve the tension. Here are a few options to consider.
Board games and card games
We’re so used to screen-based entertainment that it’s easy to forget just how much fun board games and card games can be! For your next trip, be sure to pack at least one board game and a pack of cards. Plus an evening full of laughter, excitement and gamesmanship is a whole lot more memorable than watching yet another episode of the latest Netflix show.
Guess that song
If phones are permitted to be used for music-playing purposes, then definitely give Guess That Song a try! To play this game, open your music library or app and play the songs on shuffle. Players have to guess the name of the song and the artist as quickly as possible. You and your family can take it in turns or it can be a free-for-all. Just be sure to include songs that are accessible for everyone!
Talk the night away
It may seem a little old-fashioned to some, but it’s hard to beat an evening of proper conversation. Gather around with your loved ones after dinner and pick a topic to discuss. Encourage everyone to give their opinion on the matter and then open it up for discussion. If this isn’t a habit in your family, it can take a little getting used to. Before long though, you’ll be regularly having fascinating conversations and gaining deeper insights into certain topics, as well as how your littles ones feel about them!
A digital detox could benefit the vast majority of us. What route you choose is up to you and your family – everyone is different! What you can be sure of though, is that you’ll all feel the benefits of spending less time in front of a screen and more time in each other’s company.