America once was known for and took great pride in its oral tradition, strong beliefs in family and close knit communities. With the ever increasing access and overindulgence in technology, many of our celebrated cultural norms and traditions are being lost or threatened …. While technology offers many tremendous benefits for society, it also poses some major threats for maintaining strong family bonds and for cultivating the social skill development of youth as well as adults.
It, therefore, is important to provide many parents with tips, strategies and insight on how to address their children’s increasing dependence on technology and potential resistance to social interaction. As a parent of three adult children and an author on the subject matter of positive parenting, I have a number of tips and strategies that I can offer on how to wean your child off of technology. My recommendation is that parents first start with a clear goal of what they want when they’re planning to directly work with their child in the process of becoming less dependent on technology. This should then be followed by outlining clear steps for facilitating this process.
The importance of having clear steps should not be underestimated because, for one, the process of weaning your child off of technology is very likely to take time. Habits and cultural norms become imbedded in the mindset and behavior of all individuals. So, this should be expected.
Secondly, setting clear goals greatly increase the chances of you as a parent maintaining focus. Goals help you to bring out the “best” in you. Goal setting, based upon my experiences personally and professionally, is the most important of all personal improvement ideas. This is because goals give you a sense of purpose and direction. They provide a process for keeping score and can give you a greater sense of confidence that you know where you’re going (what direction you’re headed). More specifically, Goal-Setting is the single biggest opportunity for fostering and cultivating self-development because it provides a clear roadmap for what you as a parent want to accomplish with your child. Goals inherently, when one is fully committed, require you to fine-tune your specific approach and strategies for accomplishing your desired goal (clearly define what you want to do and how you’re going to do it).
Now having emphasized the importance of viewing the process of weaning your child off of technology as one that will require time and patience, I would like to offer some clear steps for you to initially focus on in the process. It, however, is important for me to note that these proposed steps and interventions have been developed so as to relate directly to: 1) things that can be implemented within your family structure; and then, 2) what you as a parent or caregiver can specifically focus on with your child as an individual.
STEPS TO FOCUS ON AS A FAMILY:
Step #1 – As a starter, eat dinner together.
Step #2 – Make one evening a month for family game time.
Step #3 – Then, set aside a full day for family outings – where no technology is involved.
STEPS TO FOCUS ON INDIVIDUALLY WITH YOUR CHILD:
Once again, as a quick reminder, you need to always keep in mind that weaning your child off of technology is a process that takes time.
Key Point #1 – Be clear and consistent in your messages. Be a model of what you’re trying to teach. Don’t drive and text. Don’t pick up your phone all the time while you’re watching TV.
Key Point #2 – Set clear rules about when they can access technology. For example, for a 16 year old, “No cell phone usage after 9pm on a school night.” (On the weekend, after 11pm)
Key Point #3 – They need to know what the consequences are for breaking the rules. Then, as a parent, you have to be strong enough to follow-through with enforcing those consequences.
More than anything, for the process of weaning your child off of technology to be effective, parents foremost must truly believe in the value, importance and sacredness of family time. “Family Time” is probably the most important time of the day for families to connect and reinforce bonds. Its value is immeasurable because regardless of what time of the day it occurs, its’ the most important piece to ensuring that family’s stay connected. So, as a parent, if you learn to use it properly and wisely, you will develop a child (youth) who matures socially while maintaining strong family bonds.