FAMILY TIME: UNPLUGGED!
Endorsing “unplugged” family time may seem like a no-brainer. Of course, we all spend too much time in front of a screen of some sort. But how bad is it for us…really? And what can we do about it? In this article, you’re sure to reinforce what you already know, discover something new and pick up a few good ideas!“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” “Imagination decides everything.” ~ Blaise Pascal
stimulation today? He’d probably frown and tell you the same things our experts told us! And then he’d find himself a nice spot at a café and start working on a theory or piece of writing.
WHY can’t we stand a bit of silence and nothing to do? ARE we in danger of losing our imaginations? What has being “plugged in” done to us—and can we save ourselves and our families?
Why is Unplugged Time Important?
and an increase in anxiety, especially in children and teens. In addition, it may surprise you to know that the tendency to compare ourselves to our peers affects both kids and adults!
drive your car 100 miles per hour. You’re going to get there quicker, but you’re going to run out of gas faster.
parents struggle with the issue of “How much is too much?” because each child is different. A good rule of thumb is to be vigilant. If your child’s emotions, demeanor or interactions with you change, it might be time to cut screen time!
You found a game to play, or you made one up. Kids don’t have to use their imagination because video games serve up fantasy lands on request. Watching YouTube celebrities doesn’t require any
creative thinking, just observations of OTHER people living out THEIR lives.
Humans do not like to be bored, and we like to do things that stimulate the pleasure centers of our brains. We also love to master activities—that is what having a hobby is all about! The trick is encouraging kids to use their brains by unplugging them and forcing them to be imaginative and creative.
5) Social skills suffer. Screen time takes away from social interactions with peers, which
enable children to hone their social skills. Children are having more challenges with:
- Reading social cues (facial expression, body language and tone of voice) which lets us know whether or not others want to interact.
- Conversation skills, including starting and joining in a conversation, matching the topic, and the ability to talk about subjects that are not of interest.
- Emotional regulation (handling and expressing feelings appropriately)
- Being flexible
- Turn taking
- Handling losing
- Working cooperatively
Why is Family Time Important?Family time promotes connection, bonding, stability and peace within a family unit. However, it’s important enough to mention a couple reasons in particular:
Reinforcing Social Skills: From a social skills perspective, non-distracted family time (meaning both children and parents are off of their devices) is a wonderful opportunity to practice the social skills needed for life. It also enables parents to:
- Provide feedback and share observations that a child is using social skills to be successful, e.g., “I notice how you congratulated the winner of Jenga.”
- Remind their children to use the social tools they need in the moment to be successful. For emotional regulation, social coaching can look like: “You can use deep breathing to calm down if you feel frustrated you are losing the game.”
- So, if we know there are so many consequences associated with overexposure to electronics, why do we continue to allow it? What’s keeping us from fixing this issue?
What Obstacles Do Parents Face When Limiting Screen Time?1) Push-back from kids. When you tell Johnny that he can’t play his video game for three hours straight anymore, you’re probably going to experience a teensy weensy bit of push-back! After all, he liked his schedule just fine, thank you! Also, video game creators purposely make the games addictive and build in personal and even social consequences if Johnny ends his game too soon. First, he loses his progress towards the next level in the game (playing on the human motivation to master a skill). Second, because of online group play, Johnny’s departure affects others’ characters in the game. Nevertheless, it is a game, and of course your child’s health (and your rules) are more important.
time sets a good example and leaves no room for misinterpretation about your priorities as a family.
founder of New Objectives Psychology, Counseling & Neurofeedback Center.
Joseph Cannizzaro, MD has been practicing pediatrics in Central Florida for over 40 years and is the author of “Answers for the 4-A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies.” As a classically-trained primary care physician who practices functional integrative medicine, Dr. Cannizzaro believes that integrative medicine can bring conventional and complementary healing modalities together, creating a highly personalized and high-touch healing environment. Call the Cannizzaro Integrative Pediatric Center at 321-280-5867 for a meet and greet or to book a session at The Salt Room® Longwood. www.MyCIPC.com