Balance Feels Best: Helping Children Neutralize Technology Overload
(Guest Blogger John Salama)
As digital learning has become a widely preferred alternative for school, children everywhere are now “required” to be on devices in the wake of the pandemic. This is quite a change from the screen time limits that parents have attempted to enforce for years. Now, allotting time for school online, connecting with distant relatives via video chats, and participating in physical activities virtually are all a part of our everyday lives. Therefore, our new reality is challenging parents’ view of how much screen time is too much. Parents everywhere must shift their rules regarding their children’s use of technology and implement a balanced online lifestyle with other offline activities.
Technology has become a part of our daily lives in many positive ways. And while we have quicker and easier access to things and people, it has also caused many to live in a continual state of hyperstimulation. For children, this constant dopamine fix is the reason so many become “addicted” to devices. This can lead to negative behaviors and bad habits that will be more difficult to break. After hours of digital time, children become tired and irritable and often have meltdowns when told their time is up. And while the toxicity from technology overuse can be harmful, it’s not going anywhere.
Especially now that many children are attending school online, it’s essential that parents alter their viewpoint and set clear boundaries for tech time that correlate with our current situation. It is equally important for children to have scheduled breaks though. Research has shown that we blink less when we are on devices, which leads to eye pain and headaches, so breaks are essential. In addition, encouraging good learning habits during school hours will help children get work done more efficiently so they have time for other activities. These non-tech activities can then counteract the overstimulation and anxiety that devices can cause. Habit 7, “Sharpen the Saw – Balance Feels Best” in the book, “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” by Sean Covey, is a great way to find balance. Even though we can now learn, connect with family, and exercise online, too much of anything can still be bad.
The SKILLZ program that we use for our kid’s martial arts classes was developed after years of research in science and psychology. The progressive child development technique that SKILLZ implements encourage development and balance. While essential skills in physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development are nurtured in each class, methods used by instructors also foster the production of positive brain chemicals that help to counteract stress and anxiety. The stability that comes from a creative balance helps benefit children’s development.
As screen time has increased because school is online for many children now, parents must adjust their stance on screen time limits while also continuing to promote device-free time and activities. Creating opportunities and encouraging activities for children to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially without using technology is essential, especially now. And while it will take more creativity and patience on the part of the parents to instill the importance of balance, the result will be better feeling children with more positive habits.