Healthy online thoughts for parents (part 2)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and talking around screen time, social media and various online activities. I don’t think we realised the effect that the internet would have on lives when it entered our lives.  These days we all have to navigate new boundaries in our own lives and that of our children.

So what’s the big deal.

Having researched this topic a fair deal, I have noticed that many of the creators of the technology that we use, send their children to schools where digital devices are not used. They have put stringent measures in place in their own homes so that their children do not use technology until they are around 10 years old. Now, that got me thinking. If the creators of the technology we use do one thing, why do we not reinforce the same?

I have subsequently learnt that a toddler playing with blocks develops part of their brain that the child next to them playing the same game but on a device, does not. There is clear evidence emerging that writing with a pen and paper results in increase long-term memory gain rather than only making notes on a computer.There is growing evidence that increased gaming and online usage can affect your attention span in the classroom and ability to enjoy life – and not for the better. For me, that’s alarming and I long to see my friends and children enjoying life to the fullest.

Author and IT expert, Brad Huddlestone commented, “When the technology boomed and started to take over I felt we didn’t keep things in balance. With that has come conditions such as anhedonia which is a condition of the brain that causes the pleasure centre, that drives pleasure for example if you like to hike or hunt or fish, to reduce the ability to experience that pleasure. Technology gives us pleasure but when we overdo it the brain gets stressed so it has to rest. It has to relax.”

We need to realize that when our children are on social media. Every interaction releases dopamine (pleasure) and when there are too many dopamine hits the brain shuts down. Through excessive digital use our children are at risk of online burnout. The focus is on the the brain’s pleasure centre and after a period of not relaxing from too much stimulation, the brain goes numb as a result from the excessive dopamine release. What is the consequence? More and more teenagers are resorting to drugs and to self-harm. We were made to experience pleasure and to enjoy life. However, when the pleasure centre gets overloaded and becomes numb we go in search of something to feel anything again – whether it is pain or pleasure. Our ability to experience these feelings are greatly reduced and our drive to regain that feeling leads us into dangerous places.

How do you and your family find enjoyment around you?
  • Schedule times where digital devices are packed away.
  • If you children throw a tantrum or get upset, remember you are the parent.  The fact that they are getting upset shows their is an imbalance.  Stick to your plan and reinforce healthy boundaries in this area.
  • Do something physical.  Physical activity helps the brain heal and is just plain good for you
  • Play games such as Scrabble, Monoply, card games, Chess and the like.  They are all wonderful for so many reasons.  Laugh and enjoy being together with digital devices packed away. It might seem weird but you will soon notice the change.
  • Get reading (buy your kids a book and place it on their bed as a gift).
Do one thing at a time to slow down and be more productive

Did you know that our brains are sequential processes. We think we multitask but our brain actually switches from one activity to the next so quickly that we don’t really focus properly on the task at hand. Doing too many things at the same time doesn’t allow for our brain to transfer short term memory to long-term memory. What we fear is missing out but sometimes we miss out on remembering. Give it a go…test it out for youself.

Take some time to only do one thing at a time, then move onto the next activity. That means when you are reading, you read. When you are talking to someone that you pack your phone away and really be present. Encourage your children to do the same. Pretty soon, you will feel calmer, more present and your productivity will increase.  Your children will probably get through their homework alot quicker too if they do one thing at a time). It’s hard to do but give it a go.

It is from this place of establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in our home that us and our children will thrive.

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