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5 Things to Keep in Mind Regarding Teens, Technology and Digital Detoxing

Author:[本站]Date:2018-06-13 17:35:48

With summer break upon us, many people are considering taking a little digital detox. You’ve got offices instituting healthier work email policies. Some companies are recognizing that we need time away from our phones. And now, younger kids and teens are learning how too much technology is affecting them.

Here are some trends related to teens, tech and digital detoxes worth considering and advice to help you and your child strike a healthy balance with technology use:

1. Time away from screens is something we all crave.

A Common Sense Media study found that many teens ages 14 to 19 are actually addicted to the internet, particularly social media. They show signs of addiction, like lack of control over the time they spend online and the inability to set priorities. Other studies show they may just be addicted to the false sense of social interaction that the internet provides. But that doesn’t mean they enjoy having their phones in hand all the time. It can be a relief to relinquish technology for a while!

A student in one of my classes told me, “I have to admit that when my parents make me leave my phone at home while we have lunch with my grandparents, it’s pretty nice to just be there and not wonder if my Snapchat is blowing up.”

Research also suggests that kids who spend more time on social media feel less fulfilled socially. And the more platforms they use, the more stressed, anxious and depressed they become. Teens might bemoan the idea of not having their phones with them at all times, but they enjoy a break from the constant connection. Need some evidence of that? Just look at all the kids who are eagerly anticipating their departure to sleepaway camp where they may spend days or weeks without their phones.

2. You can find a replacement for your digital dopamine hits.

The whole point of social media apps is to get you to spend as much time on them as possible. They’re designed to be addictive – tech companies have confirmed as much.

So if you find that your kids (or you) are having a hard time tearing yourselves away from your phones, there’s a reason for that. Let’s be easy on ourselves. Digital detoxing is about more than willpower. We have to be smart about how we undo the ill effects of technology and find ways to get our dopamine fix in real life.

For example, you can get it from foods. I’m not talking about consuming lots of added sugar either. You can derive pleasure from eating foods thought to boost dopamine levels ranging from dairy, like yogurt, to eggs, unprocessed meat, nuts and fruits including bananas and veggies. You can also do things to make your brain produce dopamine naturally, like get out in the sun, which increases the number of dopamine receptors we have and gives us vitamin D to turn on those genes that produce dopamine.

Then seek out some human contact. Touching other people, hugging and even shaking hands gives us a natural hit of the good stuff. Stroking a pet works, too.

Listening to music causes your brain to release some of that happy chemical. So does working on something creative, such as crafting, drawing and photography, or focusing on a detail-oriented activity, like building Lego sets.

3. People and businesses are starting to recognize that digital wellness is important.

Some companies are creating rules to help their employees disconnect, such as establishing times when employees shouldn’t send emails. There are even retreats created for the sole purpose of digital detoxing that cater to adults, and digital detox camps for teens. I personally created the Digitox Box to get families off their phones and spending time together.

Basically, our brains are designed for real-world connections and experiences, so when we deprive them of that, we’re not as healthy or happy. People are figuring this out.

4. Apps are getting on board too.

It might seem counterintuitive to think that an app could help you with your digital detox, but several companies are doing just that. And kids are using them. We all know we need to practice self-care nowadays, but sometimes we just need a little nudge in the right direction.

My teens and I use an app that tracks how much we use our phones each day, and I often find that I check my phone more than they do. (Apple just announced that its iOS 12 update coming out will have this same tracking ability built into it.) In my defense, I work while they’re at school, but nonetheless, my kids are still proud not to be on their phones so much. There’s also the app Forest, which will plant a tree after you’ve spent enough time off your phone. Other apps like Headspace focus on getting you to be more mindful by helping you learn to meditate, starting with small increments of time each day, which can help reduce stress and make you more focused and compassionate.

5. The iGeneration does care about too much screen time.

You might think that the iGeneration kids are the ones we need to worry about the most. But the fact is, they do care about the problems that technology and social media can cause.

Right now, we need to help them. We should acknowledge the inherent struggle with screen time and the effort it takes to disconnect (because after all, we’re going through it ourselves), and together come up with ideas to detox together. Believe that they care. Don’t come at it with a negative point of view or a lot of nagging.

This generation is aware of how technology affects their mental health, and they’re shedding the stigma surrounding things like depression, anxiety and addiction. They are talking more openly about these problems, and they know that their devices have the capacity to lead them down an unhealthy road.

Even as companies, including some tech firms, try to promote digital wellness, it’s still our job as parents to help kids with this. We can work with our kids to take things in a positive direction and make digital detoxes a regular part of our lives, as we prioritize striking a healthy balance in how we use technology.

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