How many hours a day do you use your cell phone and let’s be honest, don’t you spend hours scrolling through social media, watching a cute video, reading an article, checking the weather, playing games, or google something interesting?
And yes, you do this either when you’re bored or out of habit. It’s understandable because technology is everywhere. Technology has changed our world in everyway and it looks like it’s here to stay.
Endless information is always available at our fingertips and we practically don’t even have to leave our house anymore if we don’t want to because we can get and take care of anything on our cellphone.
Of course it’s very easy popular to point fingers and Millennials and the younger generations for being technology addicts, but let’s be real. If you look at the whole picture older generations, including our grandparents, are just the same.
The only difference is that older Millennials and older still actively remember the times before the smartphones and the internet. Have you ever wondered how technology has affected us and how it affects our mental health and development?
What about our children? They don’t know what it was like in 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 both the physical and mental health of adults so can you imagine children who are glued to the screen? They are even 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 and as it turns out, a lot depends on the parents because parents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones, or their laptop, or other technological devices, like the TV, and they tend to have less meaningful and more interrupted relationships with their children.
As a result of this, their children may feel unimportant or frustrated and they may act out to get attention in some way.
The Study Warns About The Connection Between Parental Technology Use And Children’s Behavior
So this research study that was conducted by examining 170 two-parent homes with children just over 3 in the U.S. had parents answer questions regarding their technology usage habits. That included 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 and wanted 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
Obesity and being overweight
Despite its negative impact, it’s not unknown that 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, but 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 so make the rules and stick to them. Make sure to spend uninterrupted quality time with your children without technology.
Ban phones at the dinner table and the lunch too. No phones during meal times, at all. Make sure to spend time together during these meals and enjoy them. Slow down. Talk, connect, and laugh.
Pick activities instead of movies. Netflix is fun yes, and of course many parents find it helpful distracting their children with a cartoon and yes we look at family movie night like a fun way to spend time together.
However choosing activities that allow actual interaction creates a better connection, something like board games, cards or dominoes. Color, draw or do crafts together. Play with legos or building blocks. Go for an evening walk.
Get outside and spend some time in nature. It’s 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, you can just go bowling, to a trampoline gym, or a museum.
The important thing here is to turn off your phones to be fully present with each other. Also 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. Just 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.