Technology has been successfully integrated into everything we do, right from the time we wake up to the minute we fall asleep. No wait… that’s not quite true - technology has also been integrated with sleep! We now have technologically advanced pillows which can cure sleep disorders and white noise machines for better sleep. While we can’t deny the good that has come out of technology, we also cannot dismiss its ugly consequences.
Several families have analyzed their toxic technology dependencies and have taken the decision to do a family-wide digital detox.
What is a digital detox and how does it help?
As the name suggests, digital detox is a practice through which a person breaks away from using any piece of technology for a certain number of hours or days. The benefits of a digital detox are more profound if an entire family detoxes together. Not only does this add moral support for those who are more tech-dependent, it also removes the visible temptation of other devices to break the detox and go back to consuming content in front of screens.
A family digital detox helps with:
1. Family Bonding
In-person social interaction has become a thing of the past in many families! Children and parents are running their lives in different directions, while under the same roof. Social media, instant messaging and unlimited connectivity have allowed us to be consumed in our own digital worlds and peer groups. In extreme cases, technology addiction can even damage internal relationships beyond repair. Doing a digital detox as a group actually opens up rare new possibilities to catch up with one another. Turning off the television, the smartphones and other electronic devices, can be hard at first. However, once it becomes a routine, digital detox time every evening could even turn into something the entire family eagerly looks forward to!
Remember when families had group bucket lists with a list of things they wanted to do together? Families hardly ever do that anymore, thanks to our obsession with digital media consumption -
we just don’t seem to have the time. A digital detox allows us to bond and prioritize togetherness over solo digital activity. Think of all the amazing things you could do together - park days, finishing (or at least trying to finish) a game of Monopoly or simply taking a device-free short vacation! Families did it before technology - it’s definitely possible to go back to a life without the smartphone. Parents enjoy a certain level of closeness irrespective of their technology usage as they have had years to bond before the digital frenzy really reached its peak. However, digital natives who are siblings often feel like they aren’t as close as they would like to be. A digital detox (even once a week) can drastically improve sibling bonding and ensure that children have meaningful conversations that take place in the physical world.
3. Improving your children’s social and emotional intelligence
Social interaction allows children to mentally evolve and improve their cognitive abilities. Our emotional intelligence improves as a result of understanding feelings beyond words. Close relationships were forged by understanding the true meaning behind our dear ones’ “I’m fine”, especially when they didn’t mean it. With most communication these days happening through texts, are our children really looking up from their phones and understanding emotions like we did? Perhaps not. A digital detox allows children time to learn to process human emotions rather than communicating with emojis. Research conducted by UCLA proved that even a short five-day digital detox had an astounding impact on the way kids recognized human feelings.
4. Resolving other behavioral issues with children
The sad reality is that childhood depression is on the rise as a result of social media addiction. Why is it that, in what seems to be a totally connected social media world, children end up feeling more lonely than ever before? Children put immense pressure on themselves to be ‘socially appealing’ and ‘popular’. They are going through problems we never had to face. All of this results in behavioral changes which are new to children as well as their parents. Showing them the imperfections of life outside the digital spectrum helps them accept the ‘imperfections’ of their own lives. A digital detox helps them disconnect from the always-on virtual world and become more empathetic towards others.
How to pull off a digital detox
● Plan the detox in advance and together, to ensure that everybody in the family is on the same page.
● Keep all the devices together to discourage anyone from breaking the rules.
● Inform your extended family, friends and colleagues that you will not be reachable through mobile and email.
● Prepare a fun activity calendar to prevent any relapses on account of boredom.
● Make the detox periodic and ensure that the entire family sticks to it. No excuses!
● We recommend doing a digital detox once a week.
A digital detox allows your children to dial back on social media addiction a little, while also helping them appreciate life outside their screens. A day spent visiting the park, playing ball or even volunteering would be a day well spent. Encouraging your kids to volunteer for different causes can help them get things into perspective - it might even help them see the world as a big and beautiful place full of opportunities.
We wish you a happy digital detox!
Writing credit: Authored by Anitha, a mother of two children with interests in EdTech and a strong advocate for Digital Citizenship.
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