Is Internet Addiction Really A Thing?
Author Diana Graber is helping parents teach their teens and kids build a healthy relationship with technology. It’s not about removing their devices – it’s about finding the right balance in a digital world.
Raising Humans In A Digital World is your answer.
Screen Time During COVID-19
Suddenly families across the globe are finding themselves at home with kids who are staring at screens more than ever. For many, this is a necessity. Technology is their only access to schoolwork and to their peers. While families may have had firm screen time rules in place pre-pandemic, these have largely gone out the window. And that’s okay.
Still, it is important for parents to help their kids take a much-needed break from their screens now and then, and this is easiest to do if you provide them with alternatives to their screens. Especially if it’s an alternative they came up with themselves.
How We Do This In School
During normal times, I teach an in-school course called Cyber Civics to middle school students. It’s a series of digital literacy lessons that cover the whole spectrum of online life. One of the topics we explore is “screen time.” Here is a key lesson from our curriculum that I also share in my book “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology,” that you might find useful at this time:
Make an Offline Bucket List
Many teens and kids today find their most pleasurable experiences online, and that’s too bad because the real world offers lots of pleasurable experiences too. Dr. David Greenfield, an internationally-recognized authority on the treatment of Internet and Technology Addictions, helps his patients reconnect with offline life’s pleasures by having them write down one hundred things they can do without a screen. Even though many find this activity challenging initially, once they get going it becomes easier, and their lists become road maps, full of real-time activities to choose from when the urge to plug in hits.
This is a great activity for kids to do too. The goal is for them to make a list they can refer to when you suggest they take a break from technology and they inevitably tell you they have nothing to do. Here’s how to get started:
- Get a large piece of blank white paper. Write “My Offline Bucket List” at the top. Challenge your kids to come up with at least 50 non-digital they’d love to do. For example, they could paint, bake a cake, learn to skateboard, or camp in the backyard (These activities will vary according to each child’s age and interests.) They could write a letter to Grandma, make dinner with you, or walk the dog. The point is for them to come up with at least 50 ideas and write them down.
- Post this list in a prominent place in your house. Encourage your children to refer to it when they’ve been online too long. You might make your own list to refer to as well, and use it when you find yourself scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook feed. The point is to give your children fun, non-screen alternatives that they come up with themselves. Your kids may even find these new offline experiences so much fun that they end up craving a good hike over making another TikTok video. Who knows?
We often forget that this generation of kids simply do not know a world without digital devices to fill in every moment of boredom. Help them by letting them discover the joys of the offline world, before we all forget what they are.
Contributor: Diana Graber, author of Raising Humans In A Digital World
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