By Ari Goldblatt
Often parents feel they are alone on a proverbial island trying to figure out how they can balance their careers, make dinner, do laundry, navigate home work (I can go on…), all the while knowing in the back of their heads – their kids are spending too much time on digital devices! But parents are not alone with their screen time concerns because it’s happening in most homes across the country.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center points out the significant challenges parents are facing between screen time and their kids. At the core, a majority of parents feel it’s harder to parent in today’s day in age because of all the technology and social media. In addition, a majority of parents feel their children are spending too much time in front of screens.
What parents think!
66% think it is harder to raise kids these days than 20 years ago of which 26% say its because of technology
71% say their kids are spending too much time on screens
71% believe widespread use of smartphones by young children might potentially result in more harm than benefit
56% say they themselves spend too much time on their smartphone
68% say they are at least sometimes distracted by their phone when spending time with their children
Now that we know we are all thinking about this, the next question is, what can parents do about it? With all those real aforementioned responsibilities mentioned, and the challenge of the day still only being 24 hours long, solutions need to be accessible and immediate.
Ideas for families to spend time together & away from digital devices
TV Shows or Movies
Families can make time to watch a movie or TV show together. There are some really cool shows on the various media apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney Plus. The great thing about these shows is many of them drop the entire season all at once. Having access to these segmented shows allows families the ability to come together each night and enjoy their new favorite show. Once you burn through one season just find another one!
We all need to eat dinner, right? Plus, with so many of us working from home because of the Pandemic, there is less commuting so the possibility of actually gathering for dinner at a normal time is likely. Dinners can be fun family projects by assigning your kids basic tasks like setting the table, making the salad or maybe you have a little Martha Stewart on your hands and they can handle the chicken parm! Just make a rule, no phones at the dinner table so you at least have a shot at getting their attention.
Get Outside for Walks
Again, because so many of us have our lives fully centered around the home this winter, with brief trips to the supermarket and Home Depot, we can all benefit from stretching the legs and getting out. Insisting your younglings bundle up and join for a walk could provide a good opportunity to engage them in conversation, get some exercise and perhaps even bump into a neighboring family doing the same thing.
Family Game Night:
I think we all have been there when we “suggested” to our kids they get off their phones or devices. However, when there is nothing to offer them outside of the “cause I said so” command, it tends to fall flat and never really results in the desired outcome. Having one or a couple of our Carrom family games like Nok Hockey, Shuffleboard or the Carrom Game Board at least offers a fun, generations tested, activity you can enjoy WITH your children. With a little nightly repetition you just might be able to condition a love of the same family classics you grew up with and result in them approaching you with, “Hey! Are we playing or what?”
Whatever you choose to do it’s important to find things for all of you to enjoy and to lead by example. Just like you would not let your kids play with matches or eat gummy bears for breakfast, they need your direction on how to live balanced and healthy lives. Also, if you haven’t checked out Mandalorian yet give it a go as it’s a lot of fun!
Pew Research Center – Parenting Children in the Age of Screens, 2020
Click Here to see the complete study and article from the Pew Research Center