Our children feel like they have to be continually connected to their friends through their phone and social media. There is a strong drive and perceived need in them to stay connected. Teaching our children to handle this temptation in a healthy way can be a challenge for parents.
Home should be a place of refuge, free from the cutting statements of others and the pressure to fit in. Home should be a safe, stress free place. We as parents need to guide our children to learn how to achieve a balance between using the internet to their benefit and not letting it control them. We need to set rules in our homes that will create an environment that is healthy for them. No child is going to voluntarily do this on their own, it is to much of a temptation. So what can you do?
Here are some suggestions that may work for your family. We want to minimize distraction and constant interruptions especially during the time when they should be focusing on homework or time when the family is to be together such as at the dinner table or family movie night. This is when there should be no phone. It should also be taken away when it is time to sleep. Don’t forget that your message will be more impactful if you as the parent are a role model. We need to put our phones away too.
We are teaching them the discipline and practice of unplugging so they can then do it themselves when they get on their own. They need to learn to connect with people face to face. We want our children to be able to establish relationships with others. To handle a job interview or a date night. To be an interesting person apart from their phone.
Another concern about always being connected to their phone is that they do not know how to entertain themselves without it. As soon as there is a moment of boredom our children turn to their phone or TV. As parents we need to teach our children to find other avenues to focus their attention.
The phone is separating our families. We need to teach our children and model for them how to put family as a priority. My own family has an old cabin in northern California. I have been going there since I was a child and I have taken my own children there for years. There is no TV, no internet or cell phone service. It is a time when we are forced to be unplugged. We play board games, charades, do jigsaw puzzles, take walks together and read. It is a very special time for our family. Through this experience we have learned to love games and now even though my children are adults we still have family game nights. Don’t let your family slip away from you. It’s not easy to enforce these rules or to discipline yourself to be a role model but it is worth it.
Don’t let yourself take the path of least resistance. Stand up for your family. You’re in this for the long haul and you will be thankful that you were able to teach your children to unplug, slow down and enjoy so much more.