The average family home has seven screens between 3.1 family members. That’s a lot of digital information being shot at our brains. It can help us study, organize, learn, communicate, entertain and express ourselves. But it can also be dangerous. Here, we’re going to look at why we need to be a little more skeptical of how much time we and our children, in particular, spend with our faces right up against those seven screens.
Is Your Family Too Deep In The Digital World?
First of all, we can’t deny that those screens are an easy way for us to entertain our kids while we deal with one of our five million responsibilities. But the truth is that parents who let their kids spend all their time with digital media might be missing the opportunity to give them experiences that every kid should have. Not only are they going to be missing out on something they might enjoy, but they have a shallower pool of experience to draw from later in life. The less we do as children, the harder it is for us to challenge ourselves to do something new as a teen or as an adult. They have to live in the real world, too.
One of the biggest dangers of being too closed off from that world and missing those experiences is that people risk becoming less and less able to cope with real life conversation and company. According to this article, the internet isn’t always helping us socialize, it can actually make it harder for us to do it. Social anxiety due to too much time spent in isolation is becoming something of a growing health crisis. Not just in kids, either, but in adults. The net can, however, be used to find fun groups and social clubs in real life that give us the chance to bond over shared interests or learning and trying new things.
The impact on sleep
We all have the mental image of the internet addicted teen up till well in the AM with nothing but the light of a screen illuminating their face. There’s no doubt that using the net too late will impact your sleep schedule. However, according to this guide, excessive screen time leads to “delayed bedtimes, fewer hours of sleep and poorer sleep quality.” This not only impacts our performance at school and work, but it can even lead to a greater chance of stress. As we sleep less, our control over cortisol, the stress hormone, weakens. At the very least, you should have a ban on any digital media use 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light produced by electronics keep us awake and aware, which means they can help us be more productive from time to time, but they are also seriously counter-productive when it comes to sleep.
Social media and anger
This is a relatively new phenomenon and it is hard to tell what to do about it, but more and more people are recognizing that social media is making us angrier. That’s because studies like this one show that anger is the emotion that tends to travel the fastest. It gets more shares, it gets more replies, and it gets more exposure. In turn, many are noting that people get frustrated using social media and take that anger with them throughout the day. As parents, it might be worth considering monitoring your child’s social media accounts. Follow them from your own, when possible, and see what kind of conversations they are getting into. If they’re getting caught up in that anger, you need to talk to them about how they communicate online.
Sedentary lifestyles are not so good
The internet, TV, and video games are easy, convenient forms of entertainment that don’t require us to leave our seat. It should be no surprise that we are all leaving our seat less and less as a response. A sedentary lifestyle has a huge amount of risks, from unhealthy weight gain to chronic back and joint pain to low energy levels. You have to be able to motivate your kids to exercise, even if it means leading by example and helping them every step of the way. The sooner they get into the habit, the easier it is for them to maintain.
A full digital media ban is not the solution. Unless you move out into the wilderness, you might have a hard time imposing that. But you can start to look at how your family spends time and find more opportunities to get engagement elsewhere. It’s good for your emotional and physical health to ensure that you have a balance.