22 Feb Digital Detox for Kids: How to Help Them Unplug
Fed up with your family spending all their time on screens? Wondering what happened to meaningful conversation over dinner and having fun together? You’re not alone! 60% of UK parents think their kids spend too much time on their phone at home. But, forever banishing all digital devices won’t help you win parent of the year, just some severe eye-rolling from your teens.
Let’s be honest, we can’t avoid our kids using screens. And we shouldn’t! University of Oxford research suggests that moderate screen time can actually enhance the well-being of teenagers. Especially, their creativity, communication skills and development. So, instead, think of screen time like junk food. Too much junk food is a bad idea. Junk food now and again? A treat we all enjoy. This is how we see digital detox – taking steps to find a healthy balance with our digital devices and encouraging temporary breaks from screens to ensure we’re not ‘binging’. Want to learn how to help your family switch off? We share why digital detox for kids is important, how to help them unplug and offer suggestions for phone-free family time.
Why Digital Detox for Kids is Important
Screens have the ability to act like pacifiers on young children and probing the subject of screen time with older kids and teens is tricky, but here’s why we need to start talking about digital detox:
- Late night screen usage can keep us feeling alert and suppress the release of the sleepy hormone melatonin. Sufficient sleep is not just important for tackling the next day at school, a lack of sleep in children has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.
- Screen overuse can negatively impact school work and leave less desire to take part in other more creative extra curricular activities and hobbies.
- Spending too much time on social media has been linked to mental health issues in young people. Apps like Instagram have created a culture of comparison. This can leave users feeling inadequate and anxious in terms of their looks and lifestyle.
- Digital detox is important to sustain good social skills with friends and family members.
How To Help Them Unplug: Digital Detox Strategies
To get started, try these digital detox strategies for fewer tantrums:
- Lead by example. If you’re explaining that taking screen breaks is important, you won’t get a positive response if you’re scrolling through your own phone. Think of it more as a family digital detox – you’ll feel better for it!
- Create phone-free spaces – we always recommend the dinner table (for good conversation) and bedrooms (for good sleep)
- Don’t moan. Acknowledge that unplugging can be difficult, encourage your kids to share their suggestions, but be firm with your phone-free spaces
- Organise activities that are not screen-orientated
Screen Time Alternatives: Family Digital Detox Activities To Enjoy Together
Whatever our age, we often scroll through our devices when we’re bored, or have nothing more exciting to do. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to screen time to ensure your kids don’t miss out on childhood fun and the creative learning that takes place away from digital devices.
- Get back to nature – explore, go to a berry picking farm, create a vegetable patch, walk a dog (yours or borrowed!), start a tallest sunflower competition, go on a picnic, follow a nature trail
- Get competitive – enjoy a screen-free game night or ongoing tournament with quizzes and board games
- Start cooking – plan a ‘come dine with me’ evening where each family member makes a course, bake together, learn how to make something new like pasta or bread
- Be active – go swimming (definitely a phone-free zone!), cycling, indoor climbing or trampolining
- Get creative – encourage your kids to write, draw, make and create. Take photos using a disposable camera and display their handiwork
Got a great idea for spending unplugged time as a family? We’d love to hear it! Our kids are blessed with the benefits of the internet, but it’s our job to help them understand when to switch off from the digital world, find balance and stay safe online. A family digital detox is a good excuse to get your own screen time in check too!