As we begin 2018, many of us create New Year’s resolutions as a way of promoting healthier lifestyles. Resolutions usually fall under the categories of losing weight, getting in shape, or having a more positive outlook on life. Some of us may wish to examine how technology encompasses too much valuable time in our lives and resolve to make healthier choices around social media usage for ourselves and our children.
At Fairmont, we often talk to our students about finding a balance between educational commitments and playtime. Students work hard at school, so during their “down time” many gravitate toward idle time on their tablets or smartphones. Social media and gaming are huge parts of our preteens’ and teens’ lives, and parents can struggle with setting standards for their children when it comes to time focused on technology.
It can be challenging for parents to know when technology is beneficial and when it starts to become an out-of-control addiction. Tweens and teens connect with friends through social media sites all of the time, and they feel cut off and deprived when devices are taken away. Parents need to acknowledge that computer activity is a problem when it interferes with family time and other important activities. Students feel bad about their behavior when they are sneaking phone use, and schoolwork may start to suffer as technology time becomes habitual and excessive. In one study, 43 percent of teens polled claimed they wish they were not so addicted to their phones.
Below are some tips to establish healthy screen time habits for your entire family for the new year:
- Set limits, and lead by example. No phones at the dinner table. Allow for a little more screen time on the weekends.
- Co-view and co-play: Engage with your child by playing an online game with him or her. Ask your child about the games he or she likes. You may enjoy them, too! Have an open mind, and make an effort to understand what is important to your child.
- Treat technology as a tool, not only a treat. There are valuable reasons to use the internet. Weave that into “fun time” online.
You may uncover signs of addiction to gaming and the internet if your child:
- Lies about time spent online
- Uses gaming as an escape from problems or obligations
- Finds social media has a negative impact on other areas of his or her life
- Spends multiple hours every day online
Parents can seek out help at school through Fairmont counselors if they have concerns about online addiction. For most of us, though, technology and the internet can be easily balanced with home activities and used to enhance modern day life for your child and your entire family!
Have a happy new year! Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions at (714) 999-5055, ext. 1456.
Jill Thomas, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fairmont Private Schools Counselor