Keep Your Eye on the Ball Mom!
Spring ball is in full swing and we are having a blast! Another season, another team and a fresh new uniform! I find myself sitting in the stands cheering my boys on and offering the only advice I know about baseball: "Keep your eye on the ball!" For parents, keeping our eye on the ball can mean staying a few steps ahead of our kid's digital world. For me, that means it is okay to say no to the computer or cell phone and no to the video game when things are getting out of balance. Just like our little baseball players, we all get distracted with life and forget the basics sometimes. But when we take the time to keep our eye on the (digital) ball we will not strike out and we may even hit a parenting home run!
Like baseball, childhood has a very short season. Setting a solid foundation not saturated with screen entertainment is healthy for your child. National Screen Free Week is May 4-10 and is a great reminder to revisit your parenting goals and make sure technology isn't making your child stressed or irresponsible. Consider giving your child the gift of a screen-free week so they can rediscover some basic childhood activities they have been missing. How about holding off on the cell phone purchase until they are doing thier own laundry every week? Just some basics to think about.
Remember, parents can get swayed by peer pressure just as much as kids can. Parent peer pressure is the number one reason why kids get phones and overuse digital entertainment too early. Remember:
- gaming/texting raises the levels of dopamine in your child's brain to unhealthy levels.
- gaming activates the limbic system (pleasure center) while shutting down the frontal cortex (thinking center); actually re-wiring their brains.
- your children will grow to love the things they spend time on and lifelong habits begin early.
- screen addiction is a growing medical disorder.
- no child has ever died of a video-game-playing-deficiency or not having a cell phone (despite current middle school surveys!)
A growing number of families are pulling the plug and refocusing on balanced childhoods. You may need to limit screens if your kids are:
- nagging you constantly to play more.
- isolated from others, spending too much time in front of the screen.
- not enjoying being outside.
- not reading real books.
- not playing or participating in a sport or other physical activity.
- not riding their bike.
- 'out of sight' a lot.
- not spending time with friends.
- losing interest in family activities.
It may be time to step back and look at the big picture and just say no for now. Don't stress over how you are going to manage content and apps and figure out who got what amount of time on what screen. They get plenty of screen time in school. I give you permission to just take a break, and a deep breath, and calmly say no to screens at home untill balance is restored. Replace the screen games with another hobby, some real family time and conversation, good books and outdoor time. Protect their childhood now and then equip them well to use technology responsibly when they reach their teen years.
Keep your eye on the ball, Mom! Focus on what you know in your gut (and heart) is best for your child. Take the opportunity to make some tech changes in your home and your family team will be better for it. Mom, I am cheering for you in the stands: "Keep your eye on the ball!" and you will hit a home run!