How many hours a day do you use your cell phone?
Be honest. How often do you scroll through social media, watch a cute video, read an article, check the weather, play games, or google something interesting? How often do you scroll just standing in line, because you are bored or you just do it out of habit?
Technology is everywhere. It has changed our world and it is here to stay. Endless information is available at our fingertips. We practically don’t even have to leave our house anymore if we don’t want to. We can take care of anything on our cellphone.
It is popular to point fingers and Millennials and the younger generations for being technology addicts, but let’s be real, older generations, including our grandparents, are just the same. The only difference is that older Millennials and older still actively remember pre-smartphone or even pre-internet times.
Have you ever wondered how technology has affected us? How does it affect our mental health and development? How about our children? They don’t know a world without smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Too Much Screen Time Causes Behavioral Problems In Children And Toddlers
Spending hours on end on the internet and using technology has a negative impact on the physical and mental health of adults. Children who are glued to the screen are no better off, and may even be worse off. A new study from the University of Michigan showed that screen time can have serious negative impacts on the health and development of children. (1)
Turns out, a lot depends on the parents. Parents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones, laptop, or other technological devices, including TV, tend to have less meaningful and more interrupted relationships with their children. As a result, children may feel unimportant or frustrated. They may act out to get attention in some way.
The Study Warns About The Connection Between Parental Technology Use And Children’s Behavior
The study was conducted by examining 170 two-parent homes with children just over 3 in the U.S. Parents answered questions regarding their technology usage habits. How often, how long, and how they use them. The study focused on interrupted family time, such as texting or spending time online during play or mealtimes.
Parents were also asked to answer questions about their child’s behavior, whether they were irritable, whiny, grumpy or badly behaved within the two months prior to the study. Researchers factored in family income, educations, stress, anxiety, and other possible factors outside of technology, then examined the relationship between family time interruptions and child behavior.
Though further research is needed to see if there is a direct correlation between parental technology use and child behavior, the study has shown that there is certainly a relationship. The mother’s technology use is especially important when it comes to behavior.
Other Health Effects Of Too Much Screen Time
Spending too much time in front of the screen and in a virtual world can have many other negative impacts besides ‘bad behavior.’ Some of these negative impacts include:
- Vision and eye health problems
- Depression and other mental health problems
- Brain developmental and learning difficulties
- Neck, back, and other musculoskeletal problems as a result of poor posture
- Cardiovascular health problems
- Risk of diabetes
- Attention deficit problems
- Sleep problems
- Obesity and being overweight
Despite its negative impact, technology still has many benefits for us personally and for our world as well. We can’t completely ban technology and probably don’t want to. The question is how to use it safely and mindfully to protect our children and create a happy and healthy home and family.
How To Protect Yourself And Your Family From The Negative Effects Of Technology
- Limit screen time for everyone. Yup, this includes adults too. Make rules and stick to them. Make sure to spend uninterrupted quality time with your children without technology
- No phones at the dinner table. Make this lunch too. No phones during meal times, period. Spend time together. Enjoy your meals. Slow down. Talk, connect, and laugh.
- Pick activities instead of movies. Netflix is fun. Distracting your kids with a cartoon is helpful. Family movie night is a fun way to spend time together. But choosing activities that allow actual interaction creates a better connection. Choose board games. Play cards or dominoes. Color, draw or do crafts together. Play with legos or building blocks. Go for an evening walk.
- Get outside. Spending time in nature is beneficial for your health. Going for a hike, playing catch, or going mini-golfing are all fun. Even if you live in a busy city, going out exploring in the concrete jungle is a lot of fun. Going outside of the house doesn’t have to be outdoors. Go bowling, to a trampoline gym, or a museum. Turn off your phones to be fully present with each other.
- Put your phone on airplane mode even when you are not traveling. You do not have to be constantly up to date and see every text, social media post, or news update right away. Turn off those ‘pings,’ and put your phone on airplane mode or silent, especially if it is evening or nighttime or homework time for your children.
These tips can help you to truly stay connected with your family and reduce the negative impact of technology.
What are your ‘screen time’ rules at home? How do you protect your children from the negative impact of technology? How is your technology use? Share your experiences in the comments, we would love to hear from you.
Written by Kat Gal