As a father, it feels pretty great watching your kid idolize you. As your child grows, they’ll love you more than anything in the world and even start imitating some of your mannerisms. If your kid is picking up on your sense of humor, taste in movies, and other traits — great. But if you notice your child highlighting some of your unhealthy habits — that’s where you need to be careful.
According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans go online daily. Approximately 43% say they go online several times per day, while 26% say they’re online almost constantly.
Think about how often you’re on your phone, computer, or another device. Even if you think you’re hiding it well, your child is almost certainly aware of your tech habits. Are you constantly refreshing your fantasy football app? What about texting too much? If you’re on your device too much, your kids aren’t only noticing, they probably are developing those same habits. Nowadays, it’s virtually impossible to not rely on some form of technology in 24 hours, but too much tech consumption isn’t good for anyone — especially children. According to VeryWellFamily, excessive screen time has been linked to sleep problems, social issues, and increased aggression.
When both you and your children are engaged in whatever tech device is nearby, you’re both missing out on all kinds of important quality time. Phubbing — or “phone snubbing” — is a real term nowadays that means checking email, texting, social networking, etc. on a phone instead of being fully present with the person you’re spending time with. It’s time to put an end to your tech addiction and get back to being a great dad in the real world!
If you’re worried about your children relying on tech devices too much, consider some of the following tips:
- Get involved with youth sports — Over 36 million kids in the U.S. play organized sports each year. If your kid falls in love with baseball, basketball, football, etc. — they will enjoy spending much more time playing and practicing rather than just wasting time with video games or tech devices. If you really want to impress your children, consider coaching!
- Implement a week-long break from electronics — Consider going on a camping trip or a week in a remote cabin to help you and your children get away from tech devices. Stepping away from technology for a few days could renew everyone’s appreciation for family time and simple activities like playing catch.
- Start using apps with built-in timers — Since tech addiction is such a serious issue, there are plenty of built-in timing restrictions that can help. Video streamers like Juvi and Cakey have internal timers but it’s just as important to hold yourself accountable. If you only want to scroll through Facebook for 5 minutes — only do so for 5 minutes. Your child will pick up on your commitment.
- Build a tech-free play space — According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40% of residential remodeling activity was minor additions and 30% was major additions. Whether you build an entire room or just a small corner, designating a tech-free area will encourage healthier activities for both you and your kids. Even setting limits on phone use at the dinner table can be helpful.
- Discuss consequences and follow through — Taking a stern approach won’t always work, especially if your kids see you on your phone or another device. Instead, talk with them about the dangers of spending too much time online or tech addiction. If both you and your child can show restraint, then you can offer more flexibility.
Everyone once in a while, playing a video game or simply relaxing with your kids while on a device can be nice. But you cannot let this become a problem. Aren’t you grateful for your family? Show them. There is so much more to life than a bright, little screen. Put your phone down, get your kid to put the phone down, go outside, and have some real fun!