Summer 's Here - Balancing Computer Use June 22, 2017 11:46

Summertime is a great time to teach mindful use of devices. 

Summertime is a great time to teach mindful use of devices. 
Let's help children form wonderful summer memories by teaching them to manage their devices first.

Summer is here and for me it brings a flood of memories of simpler times. There were very few television shows to watch and no computers to distract me. My entertainment was up to me and my friends and our creativity. We didn't have Barbie's dream house, so we had to make a shoe box be a multiple of things to satisfy Barbie's dreams. She didn't have a wardrobe we could buy, so we had to make her clothes. We had phones plugged into the wall, so to talk to our friends without someone listening on the line meant we had to go to their house and talk face to face. The pace was definitely slower and summers were a time for the beach and pool play, being at the park looking for creatures to take home for pets, and playing sports at the local sports park. As I reminisce, I can relive those happy times and experience the same feeling of exhilaration I did 50-60 years ago.

What will our children's memories be of their summers. Will if be hours of computer time, or will it be experiencing nature as I once did.

I am not one who would say, "Remove all computers and make televisions enabled for only one hour a day." Technology has many benefits and is our future. I do believe a gift we can give our children is to learn how to manage the dependency on technology. Taking everything away does not create responsible use, but facilitating responsible use will help them in the future.

Summer is a great time to teach mindful use, self-regulation, and deferred gratification. Allow your children to schedule their days. Their schedules should include the activities that stimulate their brains and bodies such as sports, board games, art, free exploration, reading, or any activity that gets them away from their devices and television. It should also include reasonable amount of tech time. There are many  creative ways of using the computer, such as creating movies or radio programs ,or painting on the computer. There are also some video games that require higher level thinking, but are also designed to keep the users engaged. They produce a dopamine release that creates a feel good affect our children need to learn to manage. During school time, this engagement can interfere with getting work done, so summer is a perfect time for the users to learn to manage that feeling of wanting to play for hours.

Putting your children in the driver’s seat is very effective. I recommend parents share that the goal of the gaming industry is to create a chemical release in the brain that makes the user want to continue playing. In a sense it makes the brain happy. It is up to them to decide if they are going to let the game control them or if they are going to control the game. Asking your children to think of ways to manage device use themselves is very empowering. I have found that students who create the solutions for managing this control are more likely to follow through with them.

Spend time each evening helping them evaluate their plans and asking them to create something different until they find a plan that is workable. Given the summer to develop successful strategies will guarantee your children will become mindful users of their devices and learn to control them independently. It may seem like it takes them a long time to come up with a plan, but the time will be well worth it. The younger they learn to manage themselves the better off they will be later on. Do this now and you won’t have worry about your children missing class when they are away at college because they couldn’t put the game down.