Digital Detox Over summer holidays | Parental guide
Gordon earned a diploma cum laude from MTI and cooperated with the most successful IT firms (both American & European ones) as a copywriter, PR specialist, and tech ads guru.
Published 23. Jul. 2018
Updated 14. Jul. 2020
For many families, digital devices are a normal part of day-to-day life. But when kids spend all their time checking social media accounts, emails or texts instead of interacting with their peers it is a high time to ring the alarm bells.
Face-to-face interaction is essential for a kid`s emotional intelligence and social skills. Besides, spending time without gadgets can bring benefits both for kids and parents as you will have time for talks, board games and other activities that help to strengthen a parent-child relationship and trust.
What is a Digital Detox?
We live in a digitally-dependent world, where kids spend more than 6 hours on screens every day, getting ready for their classes, chatting with their peers, surfing the Net and gaming. Frequent use of modern technologies may lead to addiction, depression or even social isolation. It is the main reason why kids need to unplug and focus more on having real-life connections.
Just as with any detoxification, Digital Detox refers to the period of time, when a person refrains from using such electronic devices as smartphones or computers in order to break unhealthy habits, reduce stress and focus on social interaction in the physical world.
Digital Addiction Facts
Here is a statistics showing how bad digital addiction is:
Children spend more than 6 hours a day on screens;
The average user logs 2.15 hours a day on social media;
The average user checks their smartphones 150 times a day, that`s every 6,5 minutes;
80% of smartphone owner accept that checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning;
Teens deemed addicted to their smartphones suffer from depression, anxiety, insomnia and temper tantrums;
Excessive Social Media use results in a decrease in attention span and poor academic performance;
73% of teens suffer from symptoms of digital eye strain, including dry, irritated eyes, blurry vision, headaches and pain in the neck and back;
47 % of teens miss out on sleep due to the social media usage;
More than 31 % of Internet users miss out spending time with friends and family;
39 % of teens send texts to their parents whilst being at home at the same time.
Why Digital Detox is Important for Kids
It may be difficult to address the issue of screen time limitation with tweens and teens, but here is why your kid needs a digital detox:
Using screens till the late night suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and keep kids feeling alert. Sufficient sleep is not just a key for tackling the next day at school, sleep deprivation has been linked to the increased risk of obesity.
Excessive screen use can have a negative impact on school performance and lead to social isolation.
Spending too much time on social media can lead to an inferiority complex, as apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat have created the culture of comparison.
Online world poses such dangers as cyberbullying, sexting, identity theft and others and kids may come across them;
Digital detox is important to maintain good social skills and a strong family bond.
Digital Detox Strategies for Parents
To get started, try these Digital Detox strategies to minimize tantrums and prevent eye-rolling from your teens:
Plan beforehand: Your family digital detox is far more likely to be effective if you plan it in advance. Give your kids time to prepare for the upcoming absence of social networks and to wean themselves off. Also, come up with a plan that suits the best for the demands of your family. You may unplug the Wi-Fi in one stroke or permit devices for one hour per day. It is up to you to decide.
Explain why: Depending on your kid`s age, it may be worthwhile taking time and explain why you`ve made the decision to do a digital detox. If digital detox seems arbitrary or unfair decision, you`ve made, your kid will not respect it and even could try to circumvent your lockdown. Do whatever it takes to tailor the explanation to your kid`s frame of reference.
Join in: If you`ve decided that your kids need to do a digital detox, everyone in the household also needs to be involved. Of course, adults may need access to a laptop or smartphone for work purposes. Nevertheless, if you can`t reduce the use of electronic devices completely, then at least limit your accessibility hours (preferably to when kids don`t see you). Also, if you set a rule not to use mobile devices at the dinner table, you should do the same. It is not acceptable to prohibit your kid to use a phone, while you are scrolling through, checking texts and emails.
Phone-free spaces: Create phone-free spaces. For instance, at a dinner table (for better digestion and good communication) and in a bedroom (to prevent sleep deprivation). If needed you can block social media apps and the most-used websites with parental controls like mSpy for dinner and bedtime.
Come up with fun activities: Make sure your kid has plenty of hobbies that can take them away from their devices. Kids who spend all their free time on the screens easily get bored and have nothing else better to do. Choose a hobby for the whole family to get involved in. It can be board games like scrabble or charades.
Create family-charging stations: Allocate a place where all family members can leave their phones and other devices when they are not in use. Get into this routine of doing this with your own devices and your kids will follow your example automatically. Kids tend to copying the behavior of those around them, so do less nagging and more demonstrate how to behave.
Stay well connected with your kids: Have a conversation with your kids and ask about their day. It will show that you value them and are interested in them, more than in your devices. Spend more time with your family, it will help to feel more connected, propelling kids towards social media addictions.
Spend time outdoors: According to the research, kids who spend more time in the fresh air are not only calmer and happier but also have better school performance, less likely to suffer from obesity and have improved sleep patterns. Choose outdoor activities for the whole family, for instance, having picnics in a park, playing basketball, riding bikes, etc.
Safety is a key: Educate your kids what behavior is appropriate and what things are not acceptable online. Discuss such issues as sexting and sharing posting sexually-explicit photos and videos and explain where it can lead to. Take all necessary precautions to prevent your kid from interacting with strangers online. Also, you may use parental controls like mSpy to stay ahead of potential dangers and keep kids safe when you are not around.
Reflect: Reflection is a key part of digital detox. Encourage your family to keep a digital detox diary to log all offline adventures or spend some time after the meal discussing the ups and downs of their device-free day. The most important thing is to consciously reflect on the role that technology plays in their life and critically evaluate it.
Screen Time Alternatives: Digital Detox Activities for the Whole Family
Irrespective of age, all of us scroll through our devices when we get bored or have nothing more exciting to do. Fortunately, there is a tremendous amount of alternatives to screen time and ensure your kid doesn’t miss out on childhood fun and creative learning that takes place away from digital devices. Here are some of them:
Get back to nature – have a picnic in a park or go to the forest to pick berries. Enjoy the close contact with nature.
Get competitive – enjoy a phone-free evening or quizzes and board games tournament.
Start cooking – cook something tasty with your kid. You can bake a delicious pie together or learn how to make something new like pasta or lasagna.
Be active – go cycling, swimming, kayaking or whatever your family prefers.
Be creative – encourage your kids to draw, make, create and use their imagination to the fullest.
8 Hollywood Celebrities Who Support Digital Detox
Many famous people are joining the digital detox movement and enjoy it. Here are top 5 Hollywood celebrities loving to log off from time to time:
Kenny Chesney – Kenny Chesney, the American country singer, need to get rid of his cell phone, to relax completely. And it really makes sense, because when a phone is nearby, there is always a temptation to pick it up and scroll through social media feeds or check notifications. Even though it mindless, it is not possible to fully slow down and have a break from information.
Steven Spielberg – American director, producer, and screenwriter loves the technologies, but he has become more cautious about it. The reason is that it has both positive and negative moments and in some cases can bring harm to a person. Steven Spielberg does digital detox from time to time, as according to his point of view technologies have the adverse effect on creativity.
Ed Sheeran – The famous singer also made a decision to take a break from social media and took a step towards a digital detox. To him, he was seeing the world through the screen, not his own eyes, which promoted a break from his smartphone, social media and emails.
Selena Gomez – Famous Popstar said 90-day digital detox gave her the “most refreshing, calming, rejuvenating feeling.” After it, she rarely picks up a phone and has only a small select group of people who can access her.
Julia Roberts – Julia Roberts is one of the few Hollywood celebrities who doesn’t use social media at all. She doesn’t want to partake in social media because she knows that she won’t get off. She is very negative towards online activities distractions: “Everyone has Instagram on their phone. And I just, yeah, [if I had it] I would be looking at it all the time.”
Kendall Jenner – The Kardashian family are no strangers to social media. But it was a real shock for all to know that Kendall Jenner appreciates logging off. Recently she told that a lot of her friends and family are addicted to their devices. After her sister Kylie spent a vacation glued to her smartphone, Jenner realized the dependence on digital devices and prompt change. Sometimes she deletes social media sites like Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat from her phone for a couple of days.
Kanye West – West, well-known for his huge social media following also recently has joined the digital detox movement. On Twitter, he told his fans “I got rid of my phone, so I can have air to create.” His tweet generated 90,00 likes and 32,000 retweets within a day.
Carrie Underwood – Carrie Underwood loves to log off and spend time with her family. She says that her parents’ house is a place where she can shut down and don`t worry about work or something else.
Modern kids are blessed with the benefits of the today`s technologies, but as a parent, you need to help them understand when it is time to unplug from the digital world. Help your kid to strike a balance between real and virtual worlds and stay safe online. Digital detox is a good chance for the whole family to crucially evaluate their screen time and promote healthy habits.