Guest post by Arlene Pellicane
I know she had good intentions when she asked the question.
She asked my husband James, “Don’t you think your children are missing out? You don’t let them play video games or have phones. Don’t you think you are stifling their development?”
He was puzzled by these questions.
Just a day before, our family had a playdate with out-of-town friends who brought their 7-year-old. Our kids are 7, 10, and 13, so we were expecting the kids to play and have a good time.
But our friend’s son sat on the couch the entire time playing video games on his iPad.
I tried to coax him out of the living room to throw the basketball, play with our puppy, or grab a board game. I had no luck. Nothing was as exciting or stimulating as that little screen.
My daughter Lucy, who is the same age, sat next to him, peering over his shoulder as he played his video game. After a while, she got up to play outside.
We got the distinct impression that our friend’s son glued to the iPad was the one missing out, not our phone deprived children.
As parents, we’ve bought the idea that technology is here to stay (which it is) and that we better get our kids accustomed to screens since that’s the world they live in.
But I have seen from experience that using screens for school work is plenty. After using an iPad, Chrome book, or laptop for school, it’s not healthy to spend hours watching TV, playing games, or doing social media.
Excessive screen time is way more dangerous than too little.
Teenagers in other countries like Taiwan, China, and Korea are checking into Internet addiction treatment centers. We would be wise to observe this warning.
Researchers at Iowa State developed a questionnaire to help determine whether or not you suffer from nomophobia, or the fear of being without your mobile phone. Here are a few of the questions:
I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
Researchers found that about 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women suffer from this phobia.
It’s hard for us as adults to control our temptations to constantly check our phones, emails, social media, news, etc. You can imagine how much harder it is for a 12-year-old to control himself or herself.
When you limit your child’s screen time, you are helping, not harming your child.
It may not be popular to tell your sixth grader she doesn’t need a phone. You won’t get a “Parent of the Year” certificate from your child when you collect all devices like phones and iPads at night. Your high schooler may insist that he or she is too old for such limits.
But that’s okay. Being a parent isn’t about being popular.
So, going back to the question my friend asked James, ““Don’t you think your children are missing out?”
Yes, they are missing out from Snapchat streaks, Instagram selfies, and hour upon hour of World of Warcraft.
And that’s really healthy.
There is so much more to life and growing up than what a screen offers…from riding mountain bikes on a dirt trail, reading about war heroes, playing the piano or building a fort with friends.
When my kids are adults, they can jump into whatever new game or social media platform is available.
But my guess is they won’t choose to sit on the sofa curled up with an iPad.
Do you ever feel overloaded with technology? Arlene’s new book Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life will help you declutter your screen time and set a positive example for your children.
Today I’m giving away 3 copies of this new book. Enter to win Arlene’s book by leaving a comment here (US and Canada entries only please).
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom, 31 Days to a Happy Husband and Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.
Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com