We need to guard our kids against the constant digital distractions that surround them. Our kids’ brains are just like ours and are also not capable of multitasking. They just switch from task to task. Costing energy and making them achieve less. Five tips on how can we help our kids.
Most kids these days grow up as digital natives. Many have access to their smartphones, tablets and game consoles almost 24/7. On these devices are apps that have become masters of claiming their time and attention. Too many digital distractions.
The myth of multitasking
Unfortunately our kids are also not capable of multitasking, just like ourselves. Growing up as a digital native does not mean your brain has become accustomed to it and you have developed some kind of multitasking superpowers. Our kids’ brains are just like ours and just switch from task to task. A process that is costing a lot of energy. Besides losing energy, our kids will achieve less in things that really need focus and concentration. Things like studying and schoolwork. Things like building relationships.
That is why we need to teach our kids about these constant digital distractions. The best way to do that is to make them aware of the problem and teach them at a young age how to focus and develop self discipline.
Masters in claiming our attention
Technology corporations like Google, and especially Apple are the largest corporations that ever existed on earth. In combination with the apps that run on their platforms these mighty corporations have become masters in claiming our attention. Just look at your own behaviour. How often do you check your phone? I personally check it very often! I also love the way Netflix always tempts me to watch even longer. We all see the examples around us in our everyday lives. People glued to their phones and kids attached to their tablets. Of course our kids will copy that behaviour.
How can we help our kids?
Make them aware
It all starts with awareness. When you are aware you are being distracted you can guard yourself against it. Tell your kids that they can not do two things at once. That their brains just keep switching from task to task.
Also talk to your kids about their devices and the apps that are on them. Tell them how they are designed. That they are designed to be fun but also to make sure you keep watching or playing. You can even tell them that you are also struggling to keep your focus from time to time. Teach them how you do that.
Give the good example
Your kids have a tendency to copy your behaviour. So make sure you give them the good example. Don’t act like a smartphone junkie yourself. Put it aside from time to time. Especially when you are spending quality time together. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner together with the tv off and no smartphones on the table.
Address the issue of digital distractions
Whenever you see your kids struggling to complete a task when they are multitasking: address the issue. Remind them of the multitasking myth and help them minimize the distractions and find their focus.
Kids love games and challenges. Challenge them in doing non-digital stuff together. Like: playing outside, doing boardgames together, go running, go biking. Make it a competition and they will love it.
Family digital detox
Introduce a digital detox day. One day in the week: preferably in the weekend when you switch of the WiFi and ask them to switch off their devices. Try starting with one day per month or a maybe a specific day during your vacation period. Fill the day with fun stuff together and see how the new habit catches on.
Maybe your advice wil go in one ear and out the other. Or maybe your kids are not able to fully comprehend your message. But it will raise some awareness. A seed will be planted in their brains. After all, it’s just one of those dangers in life you need to tell your kids about.