As Dexter gets older and mixes with more children, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting him a new tablet or device for Christmas, but I’ve been having a bit of an internal dilemma.
Mornings are a nightmare with him when he has to get ready for school and it would be another thing to wrestle with him about for a start.
And to an outsider, it might seem to be fairly easy to get kids to sleep at night, given the expenditure of their daily activities. However, this not the case; studies and family experiences show this. The problem is more prevalent than imagined, and it often because of electronic devices.
The following article will explore this problem, looking at the specific contributions electronic devices are making, along with some tips to help you keep your kids tech-free before bed. *This is a collaborative post with Plunc.com – recycling phones, tablets and centre – “We believe our process is as simple as you can get, and we pay the most. If you’re ready to trade-in your device or devices for cash then head home to start recycling now.”*
I mean, don’t get me wrong, technology for kids is fast evolving and can be highly educational. Dexter has sampled may apps on my phone that have encouraged a love of phonics and Paisley is a keen photographer at the age of 2! Not only that, our school system has barely changed in over a hundred years and while technology has advanced at supersonic speed, the lessons our children are taught have just not evolved that much. So, as parents, I think it is important that we give our children access to technology so that they can learn with/about it for themselves.
But Kids are spending excess time on electronic devices, whether cell phones, tablets or the like and just not getting out and about. not doing anything creative. I often see young children, sat in buggies, glued to their parent’s phones or iPads, completely oblivious to the world around them.
But this is not happening during the day; kids are taking their devices to bed, with or without permission, and engaging in screen time, robbing themselves of the 9-10 hours of sleep most kids need up until teenage.
Following this, they have to be dragged out of bed on school mornings –Dexter is like this already without bringing gadgets into the mix.
They then become irritable and moody with their friend and teachers or can disrupt the rest of the class.
On top of this, many older students try to compensate for this by consuming high-sugar, high-caffeine sodas or energy drinks to keep more “alert”. They come home with what may be left of this pseudo-remedy to latch on to their devices after dinner, catching up with whatever non-essential news they missed.
Then it’s time for bed. By now, you would think they might just fall asleep upon hitting the pillow, but they continue to torture their exhausted bodies by having more screen time. The cycle repeats, and the problem gets worse. The amount of sugar taken into the body leads to excessive weight gain and in many cases obesity. I know this through experience… because I’ve been there myself! Staying up until 2 or 3am chatting away on MSN or playing Mario Karts with online friends, then getting up for work the next day and eating fatty convenience food and energy drinks just to make it through my shift
This is just one scenario that can, and has, happened. The truth is, though, that health problems can result in kids who spend excessive time on their devices. With a problem of this scale, what is the solution?
The solution lies in some tips we will now highlight. You may find it interesting that they center around one word: Limits. However, some of these 4 tips may surprise you. At any rate, here they are:
- Set rules. Make it clear to your children that there is a time for everything. Without being too rigid, set a schedule. As for bedtime, make no compromises. When it is time for bed, this means screen time is done until the prescribed time the next day. We have actually been using more tech to do this – which sounds ironic but actually works. We tell ‘Alexa’ to set a timer for 10 minutes or to remind us about Dexter’s medicine and various other things – so the children have come to expect these little reminders
- Help them keep priorities straight. Many parents have found it effective to enforce a “no device” policy until all other more important things are completed first, whether it’s homework, household chores or other responsibilities.
- Be an example for your kids to follow. It may be hard to reverse your kids’ addictive behaviour if you yourself are glued to your devices. You cannot just tell them that you are an adult so it is okay. Kids are smart enough to detect hypocrisy. Set your own limits and abide by them. Kids are also smart enough to pick up good habits if they are demonstrated. This is one that I do struggle with. Working online and volunteering in other online roles, I’m constantly doing something or I’m always reachable so I’ve taken to sometimes just leaving my phone behind if we nip out or trying not to be a slave to every notification.
- Never surrender. Some flexibility may be warranted, but generally speaking, you need to put your foot down. Teach them that when they break the rules, there are consequences – good training for life. If you must, take possession of them at night to remove the temptation. I’ve even seen people change the wifi password so that it has to be earned before they can log on, which sort of works like a reward.
Sleep deprivation in your kids can lead to real health problems, academic problems, perhaps even behavioural problems. There is solid research to substantiate that night-time use is at the root of many of these problems.
While it can be a serious problem for your child, some simple tips will help you keep it at bay. Set your rules, teach your kids to prioritize, lead by example and enforce your standards. This way, you can prevent your kids from becoming a statistic, while helping them to become healthy, responsible adults. Help them learn their own limits, recognise signs of tiredness and help them to understand. After all, isn’t that our job as parents?