Why We Need To Put The Phone Down Before We Ask Our Kids To

“Just do me a favor and look out the window. Put down your device and look out the window at the scenery. Please?” 

I’d like to say that I speak these words to my kids only on long trips, like ten-hour trips to get to the beach, or airplane rides to the opposite coast, from where we live, but it’s not. This is practically a daily occurrence. And the truth behind this statement? It’s not my kids’ fault.

I suppose they’re just the tiniest bit to blame being that they want to take their kindle, phone, ipad, iphone wherever they go. I mean, they don’t have to want that, right?

Yeah, like I don’t want coffee. What’s fun (or tasty) is always going to be attractive.

But, is this healthy? Not the “me wanting coffee.” That’s always going to be healthy for me, regardless of the latest study … and even if it kills me.

No, the unhealthy and the worst part about my kids being so absorbed with technology is that they’re missing out on being human.

I realize that’s a broad statement. But here’s the thing. If they come home from school with their nose in their devices, then end up video gaming before dinner and the devices after dinner too, or the TV or the computer, where’s the “realness” to their lives?

What happened to them climbing a tree, or digging for worms, or chasing each other around or walking out to the fields across the street from us and playing their “war” games there, instead of on their devices? 

How did a new game for their Xbox become more important than the Legos or books I’ve gotten them? How is the latest game for their ipad or kindle more important than making crafts or baking, or exercising, or enjoying nature or playing an instrument? 

While there’s a time and place for technology, (I’m still working on this too – read the article about being Instagram obsessed!) it’s as if they’ve exchanged the real, for the fake. The authentic for the unauthentic. 

Case in point: I know my kids have a problem when my youngest son comes to me AS I’M WRITING THIS POST and asks me to download a new game to his kindle. (Insert disgusted emoji face here).

So, how do we fix this problem? Not all tech is bad. But, there can be too much of a good thing.

Here’s three ways to unglue your kids off their devices and onto things that we used to do before these devices existed!

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Plain and simple, get dem kids out of the house! I mean, where walking or running or cartwheeling their bodies are necessary to move them along and not the buttons on the phone or video game controller. I know when I get out and move, and get my eyes off of a screen, I feel so much better. Seems such a simple thing, but fresh air does a body good! And so does the exercise.

THE CALL TO CREATIVITY

Remember play dough? Remember Popsicle stick creations? Remember pretzel houses and drawing? Yeah. Me neither. It’s been a long time for my kids. And me. Perhaps to help be the example I want to give to my kids I should start to draw, or sculpt, or dance with them. And not just by myself. Something… anything! We are meant to be creative. We are born creative creatures! Find your favorite creative outlet alongside your kids and form memorable times with lasting skills and talent to boot! 

RAMPANT READING

This one is sort of a given. I know kids read at school, they have book reports, and sometimes when they get home, reading is the last thing they want. But here’s the thing: kids who read are smarter. So I try to give my boys an ultimatum with reading and technology: if you’re going to play on your kindle for an hour, then you’re going to read for an hour (it can be on their kindle too, although there is something to be said for real books.) You can easily change these rules around for what suits your family best, but more often than not, I have to tell them to stop reading so they can go to bed! Hook them by finding a series of books they love. If your child doesn’t like to read, they can learn to love it with the right books.

Technology isn’t the culprit. It’s me. It's us.

I’ve become complacent in my addictions, and this has permeated into my kids’ lives and their addictions, too.

Of course they can have some screen time. But, we need to limit it so they have balance. If I want them to have more of the genuine – and less of the fake— it’s up to me to instill this quality.

Doing what’s best for them creates healthy kids. And if doing this for them also means I’m healthier, then it’s a win-win for us all!