Screen addiction has become a global epidemic and has impacted both kids and parents alike. Too much screen time is not only bad for kids but could be adversely impacting your parenting skills as well. The problem is not only with the Indian kids but Indian parents are equally addicted to their phones and this makes them guilty of distracted parenting.
Living in a time where everything is being run by technology, you would see people both young and old engrossed in screens all day long. Mobile technology allows adults to be available for work all day long. Then there is the rise of social media apps and messengers that keeps them distracted from their surroundings and particularly, children.
This has given birth to a new term called distracted parenting. It is when parents overuse their devices and technology even when they are with their children. Distracted parenting has a strong impact on the emotional and social development of children. For instance, infants look at their parents’ or caregivers’ faces, especially for social cues. And when a notification or ping interrupts that interaction, the child gets confused since it breaks the dialogue.
Distracted parenting has also increased child injury visits to the childhood ER. The National Safety Council reports that 1 in 4 car accidents in the United States happens due to distracted driving leading to about 400,000 injuries yearly. You stop at a red light and begin to scroll through your newsfeed. Sounds familiar?
Effects of Distracted Parenting
Here is what distracted parenting does and impact your parenting:
Blue Light Disrupts Sleep
Our devices emit a blue light that messes up our sleep cycle and tricks the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. The best thing to do is to quit using screens when the sun goes down. Social media is addictive and checking a single notification could make you scroll for hours.
An average adult spends about 5 hours a day on his/her devices. It takes approximately 64 seconds to recover from the effect of checking emails or notifications. And if you add up all the time you spend on Facebook notifications and pings, it adds to a lot of wasted time.
Increased screen time indicates shorter attention spans for both kids and adults alike. Screen addiction has led both adults and kids. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds and a 2015 study found that the human attention span has decreased to only 8 seconds on average.
Distracted from Community
Social media keeps us connected to everything and everyone. But, ironically, what was designed to connect and communicate has made us detached from real-life interaction. Our relationships and social connections suffer because of social media. Social media is superficial and most people pretend to have a perfect life and everything else. This need to portray perfect lives has placed honest and enduring relationships on the backburner.
Is there a way to stop?
Yes, here’s how you can work on your screen addiction and reduce its negative impacts on your parenting:
No Phone Policy during Family Time
If you are going out for dinner or outing with family, make sure to leave your phone behind, and if you need it for some emergency, see that you keep it in your pocket or bag. Because if your phone is in front of you, you may not help yourself and end up checking it.
See that your dinner table and any other family outing that you may have is a tech-free zone. Your family and child-parent time should be without any distractions.
Switch to smaller-sized device
Over the years, the screens and devices just keep getting bigger and bigger making it easier and more convenient to lay down on the couch or bed and scroll through the newsfeed all the time. How about getting a smaller phone?
Screen Time Holidays
Just the way you set some days aside for tech-free time with your family, set aside one to two days where you don’t use your phones or tablets. This is going to get you some new hobbies and new interests and enjoy life without technology.
Go for Black & White Screens
Want to break your tech habits? How about going black and white? Yes, switching to black and white/grayscale could play a huge role in cutting down your screen addiction. Instant messaging apps and social media platforms particularly use bright colors to look attractive and addictive to users. The grayscale may reduce the allure of the app you use.
Turn on Airplane Mode
When you sleep or just having family time, put your device in airplane mode. This eliminates distracting notifications and text messages while cutting off the harmful EMF signals.
Switch off Notifications
If turning on Airplane mode isn’t something you would want to do, how about you switch off notifications? You cannot just hold yourself from checking the notifications when someone likes, comments, or replies to our post. These notifications are responsible for triggering dopamine addiction in the brain. Turn off the notifications or keep your phone on silent. You will need to practice these few things to get yourself accustomed to the idea of not having a phone in your hand at all times.
Set aside a certain time of the day to check your emails and social media.
You must set limits for yourself the same way as you would for your children. You should have a set of rules for yourself so that you are not a distracted parent. No matter how old your kids get, they would always need you. So, be there for them. They should be your focus not on your phone screens.