Are you finding it difficult to wean your teen off their smart devices or internet?
Chances are, you may not be alone in this.
We all have that 11-year-old nephew who has the annoying habit of asking for smart devices from every person that visits the family. His ability to unlock smart devices without asking for the password is unrivalled. While we may marvel at this, it could also be a sign of a harmful habit that needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.
Picture this: a family of five embarks on a long family road trip from Nairobi to Naivasha. Dad drives as mom files her nails and occasionally answers her phone. Meanwhile, the three children, sitting at the back seat, are each embroiled in their own private world.
The family of five is enclosed inside their family car, they are very close yet far apart from each other, thanks to the advances made in technology. Along the way, the family passes through scenery that foreign tourists pay to sample. In the end, they miss the best opportunity to use their smart devices to take pictures of themselves and the environment around them.
“Some of the most important conversations I’ve ever had occurred at my family’s dinner table.”
– Bob Ehrlich
Drawing the line
Another example of where smart devices have torn the family apart is the dinner table. Not so long ago, the family used to huddle together at the dinner table where the television used to be the only distraction. That privilege is no longer there as a result of each member of the family having their personal smart device.
So, what should you do as a loving parent?
In a world where technology has taken over and every single person seems to be glued to their smart devices, gaining control is the most difficult thing. However, it is the best thing that any caring parent can ever do.
Technology has changed the way we engage with the world and each other. It is possible for a person to spend the whole day sitting in front of a smart device. Our smart devices are designed to operate 24 hours a day. And unless we switch them off, they are able to operate throughout as long as we recharge them.
When you are driving on a highway it is an ideal way for families to create a long lasting bond. It is a time for engaging in meaningful conversations that we cannot have anywhere else. It is also the perfect time to create beautiful memories that your family will cherish long after the trip ends.
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.”
– Barbara Bush
How to wean your children off smart devices
- Control your child’s access to smart devices
Children under the age of 10 are meant to engage the world around them in 3 dimensions. This being so, you need to control and limit their smart device use with a firm fist. Instead of having them sit in front of a TV screen why not have an art and craft table where they can engage in creative activity.
Not only will you increase our child’s chances of crafting a masterpiece, they will develop emotionally, socially and mentally. It will also improve their ability to analyze and solve problems as well as boost their self-confidence.
- Switch off the internet or internet data device
It is estimated that 30% of all internet traffic is of pornographic nature. Not only are our children consuming pornography made by others, they are actually put under constant pressure to create and share their own. This happens through taking and sharing sexual oriented images and texts.
- Have a no ear buds time for the whole family
Have a no ear buds rule for the whole family when no one is allowed to listen to music from earphones. This can be when the family is traveling, eating or doing a group activity.
Instead have family members choose and listen to music together. This is one of our favourite family get-together activity. Whenever we meet, each household picks a deejay who plays music that we dance to. I remember the first time we did this when my wife’s dad and mom visited. We ended up creating beautiful memories together.
The other things you can do include:-
- No television or cell phone in the bedroom or during bed time
- Car time should be a no ear buds time
- Pay for television package for one device that the whole family can use and watch together
- Set time aside for switching off internet or data bundles
Smart addiction is real and is as harmful as any other form of addiction. The opposite of addiction is connection. The cure to smart device addiction is creating more deeper and meaningful ways of making connections face to face. Smart devices enable us to connecting with the world but they should not tear families apart.
Do you have additional tips on how to wean children off smart devices? Feel free to email or share them in the comments section. Thank you!
Thanks for using my links to make purchases. I make a small commission which supports my work with children and teens.
James Ouma is a CTI Clarity Coach, Cyclist and Writer. He is passionate about positive masculinity and helping incarcerated male teens to reconcile with their families and their communities. He loves staring at his bicycle, flipping through movies without watching them, and playing ‘tap out’ with his wife.