The Pew Research Center conducted a study in 2015 focusing on how much teens use technology, social media, and the internet in general. It showed that 56% of teens aged 13 to 17 go online several times a day, while only 6% said that they go online weekly, and only 2% go online less often. Kids are addicted to chatting, texting, and being online all the time.
Going online, searching for various information, and playing games is actually good for them and their development. However, the problem occurs if your children spend too much time using technology. This leads to them having poor social skills, health issues due to a lack of physical activity, and bad grades at school, so you need to find the right way to help them overcome their tech dependency.
1. Have a tech-free hour during the day
Forbidding the use of technology is completely ridiculous. The best thing to do is to limit screen time, but do not label it this way. Just focus on having an hour with no gizmos turned on.
You can reach an agreement where, for one hour out of each day, no one in the family uses any tech, which includes watching the TV. So, no TV, no computers, no smartphones, and no tablets. Use this hour to bond with your family and talk about your day at work or about something that is bothering a member of your family.
2. Only allow texting and social media scrolling on the computer while at home
As you shouldn’t just outrightly forbid the use of computers or smartphones, you can allow only the use of a laptop when at home for chatting, scrolling the newsfeed, and so on. Make it an experiment and take 4 days from one week and make them smartphone and tablet free when at home.
It is too harsh to take away your kids’ social lives by banning chatting, as this is how the world works today. Most common apps can be installed on your home computer. You can download WhatsApp for your computer, or other apps like Viber and Snapchat.
Your children won’t find it logical at first, as they can carry their laptops with them around the house. However, when having lunch and dinner, your children won’t be holding their smartphones, and that’s a win.
3. Sign them up for a class they will enjoy
If your kids are teenagers, they’ll probably hate every activity that doesn’t involve them hanging out with their friends. So, you need to come up with something that they’ll actually like, something they will continue to practice. If your kids like painting, acting, singing, or dancing, you can sign them up for some creative classes. They’ll benefit a lot if they work on developing their creative side.
On the other hand, if they are sporty, talk to them about which sport they would like to start playing.
Don’t expect them to be professional basketball players or Oscar-winning actors. Just encourage them to do what they love and to follow their dreams. This way, you’ll definitely help them to forget about their phone and laptop for at least an hour or two.
4. Offer small rewards for every book read
Many kids don’t like reading, but at a certain age, we all come across a book we fall in love with and we start really cherishing the time we have just for reading. If your kids don’t like reading, don’t think that they’ll never experience the magic of the world of books.
Think about what kind of movies they like and recommend a book in the same genre. You can even give them the book their favorite movie was based on. Once they read their first book (for the pure enjoyment, not because they had to read it for school), they’ll get addicted to reading.
In order to ensure that they’ll continue reading, you can offer small rewards for every book they read. For example, after they finish one book, you can give them some extra pocket money. The reward system has always been successful, as it is a great source of motivation.
5. Organize 30-minute family workouts
Many children spend hours sitting in front of a computer and playing games or mindlessly browsing online. In order to keep them healthy and fit, you can organize 30-minute family workouts which will encourage them to exercise. After some time, doing these exercises will become their habit, and they’ll realize just how good they feel. If they are bored when working out, then you can go to the swimming pool or play sports like tennis or basketball.
If sports are not your thing, the whole family can take lessons. This way, you’ll introduce a new family tradition and some quality bonding time.
6. Plan hiking trips on the weekends
Today, the only nature many children see is on their wallpapers. This has to change. Plan some hiking trips, but make sure to add a place of historical value, a waterfall, a cave, or an amazing view to the itinerary. They’ll complain while hiking, but when you reach the main attraction, they’ll realize that it was all worth it.
These are 6 of the most efficient ways to make your kids leave their phones and engage in some other activity. You shouldn’t take away their tech, but you should introduce them to new activities which will help them develop some new skills, meet new people, and stay healthy.