A phrase that was hardly known a few years ago, but now is something that each one of us have to consciously make sure we are doing. In today’s world of the internet and social media, its so easy to be away from the real world. Its much easier to connect with those who are miles away from us rather than those who are right in front of our eyes. Unfortunately its our children who suffer the most in this technology obsessed world.
I’m writing this article not as someone who’s been there and overcome, but as someone who is right in the middle of the struggle. Everyday is still a challenge and even as I write this post, I’m hoping it will be a reminder to me to ‘be present’!
It does require a lot of intentionality, a lot of sacrifice and plenty of self control, but I think the rewards at the end are worth it all. The cost of not being present is way higher than the cost of changing our lifestyle, because the prize or the loss at the end of the day is the lives of our children.
In today’s world one doesn’t really have to do anything to get sucked up into the world of technology – whether its facebook, or Instagram or twitter or whatsapp or emails. We are constantly being bombarded with notifications, and its almost become second nature to pick up our phones and see what’s happening in that world. They say an average person looks at their phone atleast 110 times a day! Here are some more scary stats:
How many times have our children been trying to say something to us, and we’ve just nodded but not paid attention to anything they are saying because we’ve been too engrossed with our phones or other devices. Children are not immune to all this, they are picking up all these signals. They feel rejected, unloved or sometimes even angry. A couple of times I’ve had a huge wake up call, when my children have told me, “Mama don’t look at your phone, just play with us!” Here is a heartbreaking video of a child expressing himself:
Sometimes they express themselves and other times they just take it all in, and then as they get older, we get upset when they start getting addicted to screens. But its all they have seen their entire lives, so how can we blame them.
But, its never too far down to change that. We can start changing our lifestyles from today, and give our children a much better future. Here are a few ideas to start the process:
1. Be aware of how much time you are spending in front of a screen
Log your day, and calculate the amount of time you spend watching TV, or on your phone or other devices. The results may be quite frightening!
2. Set times when you will look at your devices
Maybe you can decide not to touch a device till your child has left for school, or for half an hour in the evening or maybe after your children are in bed. If this is too much to start with, then try the next point.
3. Set times that you will devote to spending with your child without any device
Decide to give your child atleast 3-4 undivided chunks of your time and keep all devices away. Some important times to do this are: when they wake up in the morning, when they come back from school, and before they go to bed. Use these times to connect with your child in a very intentional way. Also, try and give them 1-2 slots of concentrated play time. Sit and play with them without your phone nearby. And when you’re doing that, resist every urge to quickly check your phone when they are busy with something. Let them know that they are your full priority and not your devices. Or maybe if you take them down to play, decide not to take your phone with you. You’ll be surprised at the amount your bonding with your child will increase.
4. Talk to your child about the changes you are planning to make
This will be a good opportunity to talk to them about the ill effects of screen time, and will also be another way to hold you accountable to the new changes!
Making this shift will be difficult in the beginning, but once you do it, you will start to notice what a big difference it makes to your children, and to the quality of your own life! If you’re still not sure, atleast give it a shot for a week and see if you’re not convinced!