Stop Technology From Damaging Your Child
The Times Have Changed
I grew up in the 90’s. Having the internet available to everyday folks. When I was 8 we got a computer. There was dial-up internet service that you could get through AOL. *beep…louder beep…low tone beep* If you are a 90’s baby or older then you know what sound I am trying to get across( and failing at it I am sure). Until then, there was no internet technology in my life.
I started spending hours on the computer, getting up at night to get on the computer. I gained weight and rarely played outside or had friends unless they were internet friends. Those were easy to find, but not always the safest. My childhood completely changed.
Today toddlers have tablets and elementary school kids have phones. I have seen kids riding down the street on their phones, with their hoverboards. I shake my head. Driving down the street and see kids hanging out with each other, but nowadays this includes sitting in the same area with another person but being on your electronic device. Adults are no better, but parents are more willing to change their lifestyle when it affects their child. It greatly affects our children and not in a positive way
There is a difference in getting your kid a phone so you can get in touch, and give a kid a phone for play. I am extremely against a child having a smartphone or tablet.
Give a child a device all the time and you will not be able to recognize them. It will change them.
Take the devices away and you will notice a change for the better. After all, that’s what we want them to be a better overall child. ( After the anger of taking away or limiting their devices wears off, they will be)
Electronic Devices are Damaging your Child
1.) Takes Away Time They Can Be Doing Something Else
There is nothing that child needs to be doing on that tablet that they cannot do on with other means. They can read a paper book, draw, color, play outside and be creative. Creating quiet boxes for younger kids, and creating organized areas where kids can build, and create is a great way to keep your kids entertained. Have discussions with your child, laugh and be silly. Create real-life versions of their favorite app games. Play board games, or family games using the app but as a tool and not the entertainment.
One of my favorite app games is the Heads Up Game.
This game uses a device as a tool, but not as a sole purpose of entertainment for the child. If you haven’t played it with your kids, I recommend it! There is a reason it is always high on the App Downloads list!
There are plenty of ways that children can use the devices to better experience the world and learn. Without thoughtless videos, games, and movies where the child does not look up from the screen. Let them look up fun things to do on the device, like experiments or crafts. I love having the kids use the device to make slow motion videos or advertisements together.
Have an only child? Engage in play with your child. Make-believe, imagine and create wonderful stories together as a family.
2) The Internet is Scary
The internet is overrun with bullying, sexual content, and vulgarness. I can hardly stand it as an adult. Let alone a kid.
I don’t want any kid to grow up sooner than they need to. The ability to get access to sexual content is as easy a google search. When I was a kid we had to download from Limewire and hope it was a decent one. ( Yes I watched it when I was a kid because no one had the sex talk with me and I was curious). The download times were hours! Kids have it easy these days! Which is bad for us mommas who don’t want our babies growing up.
Don’t think your child won’t know to clear history. They will. All they have to do is look that up on google as well. It’s addicting to adults, just think how addicting it can be to a young boy (even a girl) who is going through all kinds of changes. Real sex is not like what they show in the porn, and viewing it at a young age can give a sexual view of woman on to your child. This can cause the child to not respect a woman and have inappropriate sexual thoughts towards peers.
It’s a sickening thought but it’s a thought that you have to have. Kids can be exposed at any age. Teens aren’t the only ones who are interested in sex, curious or questionable. Always thinking the best of your children is a trait most mothers have. It is hard to imagine. The only want to protect the child is to censor and monitor their devices when they are on them.
I recommend having a family computer or have a child(ren) do their screen time in a family area. Kids are less likely to look up or wonder to an inappropriate video or site if you are able to walk by at any moment.
Google has developed a new web page called Kiddle. It is kid safe and has a cute robot interface. Even if your child uses google with safe search on it will not censor everything. I recommend this to anyone whose kids use a device of any kind.
YouTube is also a major issue when it comes to ridiculous, inappropriate content for your child. Use YouTube kids to prevent a child from watching something they shouldn’t be.
Here are a couple free apps and programs to use to monitor and censor your child’s mobile activity.
The free version covers the basics, enabling you to set rules and time schedules, block pornography and other unsuitable content; if you go for the paid-for version that adds SMS monitoring, social media features, and per-app controls. But even the free version is one of the most comprehensive parental control apps around.
FamilyShield is a free service from OpenDNS. Its parental control tools automatically block domains that OpenDNS has flagged under the headings “tasteless, proxy/anonymizer, sexuality, or pornography”.
A whole browser designed for younger kids. Zoodles addresses that by combining filtered browsing and a dedicated web browser to create a walled garden: everything in it is safe for kids and there’s no risk of anything awful popping up.
3) Behavioral & Sleep Issues
According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10 year-olds spend 8 hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens. One in three kids are using tablets or smartphones before they can talk. Meanwhile, the handbook of “Internet Addiction” by Dr. Kimberly Young states that 18 percent of college-age internet users in the US suffer from tech addiction.
Are you surprised? I’m not. If you were to go for one day without your device you will see a world stuck in theirs. On buses, driving, in restaurants, school events, and (if you are into creeping into people’s windows) in people’s homes, you will see people’s eyes focused on their devices. I am guilty of it as well. It’s hard not to be when the digital world seems so interesting.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, or behavioral problems you should limit screen time as much as possible if not all together.
I read an article by Victoria L. Dunckley M.D calling the behavior seen when a child has too much digital screen usage as Electronic Screen Syndrome, ESS, is essentially a disorder of dysregulation. Dysregulation can be defined as an inability to modulate one’s mood, attention, or level of arousal in a way appropriate to one’s environment. She clarified my thoughts on how the brain is affected by Digital Screens.
“Interacting with screens shifts the nervous system into fight-or-flight mode which leads to deregulation and disorganization of various biological systems. Sometimes this stress response is immediate and pronounced (say while playing an action video game), and other times the response is more subtle and may happen only after a certain amount of repetition (say while texting). The mechanisms for screens causing a stress response are varied and are a topic for another day. Interacting with screen devices causes a child to become overstimulated and revved up.”-Duckley
4) They Lose Time for Connecting and Bonding.
When our child is young we try to make the most of every moment but as the child gets older parents find it harder to connect to the child and easier to let them play on their devices. No longer are we spending time learning, sharing, exploring but the time is now spent on mindless games, shows, and YouTube videos.
The same goes for when parents are constantly on their devices instead of connecting with your children. Moments are missed and the child feels as if they are not as important as the device.
I love the internet and social media just as much as the next person, but I have started to realized we, as a family, are to distracted with our devices. Our weekend potty training session was a failure because of this reason. In order for the naked potty training method to work, you have to constantly pay attention to you child.
We would miss when he would show signs of being ready to pee because we were too focused on the T.V, phone or computer for the moment we were supposed to be watching him. I then decided we needed to put everything away and focus on family time. Nothing was more important than spending time together as a family. Not even this blog.
5) Using as a Babysitter
It is so hard not to just put on their favorite show for a few moments of peace, of uninterrupted cleaning, of silence ( besides the noise of the annoying show you have probably seen 1000 times). Do we really want our kids to become zombie-like creatures in order for us to stay sane?
Okay. Yes. But not all the time! I have recently started letting Lincoln watch shows. Before, he had not even cared for what was on tv. I let the cat out of the bag and I’m not sure how to put it back in. We have started watching Chuggington.
“Mommy I wanna watch chochoo train tracks show please”
First I let him watch it just because he asked. It is so cute how he asks. How can I say no? He is so nice and sweet about it.
Until I say no. Until I think he needs to go play with his toys and not watch this same episode again.I can actually stand watching this show, which is rare for a kids show, but I don’t want him to just sit around and watch tv. Heavens forbids I turn it off.
( Sickness, occasional lazy days are all needed just talking about general everyday life)
I am not saying throw out all electronics and put your kids back into the Stone Age. I am saying there is a thin line between good electronic usage and the addiction to it. Having rules to keep the electronic usage is the key.
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As a nanny, I have kids always asking me if they can get on electronics when they are bored. Finally, they learned not to ask unless they have a good reason to be getting on electronics.
They always had tons of other activities, toys, and crafts to do. There was no reason their first choice should be using a screen. Screen time was given after other tasks were all done and behavior was great.
Kids have had a hard time not being addicted to devices. Being attached to a screen all the time does not help any child. There are no exceptions. Slowly by slowly, they have begun to understand why I stress that the kids don’t get more than 30 min at a time. Unless it is family movie night etc.
Why should I limit screen time?!
Limiting screen time to 30 minutes at a time will require your child to go do something else. Think of something else they could be doing as well as not get zombified into their devices. It is going to be a big change if your kids are used to having free power over when they use their devices. In the end, your family will be happier, healthier, and better behaved.
My rule is that they have to tell me why they would like to get on the device and what they are going to do on the device. If they say I’m bored then I give them a list of thing we could do together or they can do independently. If they tell me a well thought out plan of what they are going to do with their time then I let them on. As long as all the other things required are done.
Before they should even ask the kids have to:
Spend at least 30 min reading or doing homework.
Do 30 minutes of creativity or outside playing.
Do their daily chores.
Have a good attitude, manners and be respectful.
I challenge you to spend a week with limited or no screen time as a family.
Set Rules as a family and get back in the habit of having fun as a family.
Set a limit for your child’s screen time. Create quiet boxes and have quiet toys available for both big and little kids. This will allow them to learn how to entertain themselves.
I want to know…
Do you feel like you use devices to much?
I know I do! I am trying to be better about it. Starting this blog has made it worse. I am hoping to get back to the real world.
Want to read the articles I read to get this information? Some of the information was based on personal experience.
 Moreno, et al. “National Trends in the Outpatient Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Youth” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(9):1032-1039. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=482424
This mom’s blog discusses how to make rules for you home to reduce technology usage.