TMIT?

Seventeen year old, Anna wrote her parents a note saying “{My younger sister} would kill me if she knew I was telling you this, but I am so glad you wouldn’t let us have facebook accounts.  I can see how I would get roped into it like my friends are.”

Fifteen year old Sarah was telling her teacher, “At first when my parents took my cell phone away, I thought I was going to die.  But after the first few days, I can’t believe how much better I feel.  Don’t tell my parents, though, they might not give it back.”

Thirty-eight year old Eileen just got back from a fabulous vacation with her husband and kids.  She says, “I think the main reason it was so great is we had no cell phone or internet access the entire time.  It was so relaxing”.

What are the consequences of our kids having access to electronic devices so many hours a day?  Texting instead of talking?  Soicalizing online with video games instead of creating games in person?  Building relationships over texts, facebook, and other social media sites instead of building relationships in person?

My main concern about kids and media has always been about what are they not doing.  When kids are plugged in, they aren’t using their imagination, they aren’t feeling their emotions, they aren’t learning to resolve conflict or entertain themselves, they aren’t learning how to self soothe (yes, even adults need this skill).  But since I have started my life coaching work, my main concern has changed. Being connected to so many electronic devices seems to reduce the feeling of joy.

Here is one teenagers description of what her life is like today.  “Your life can go from fine to misery to elation, all throughout the course of one English class.  You never know what people are going to post about you on myspace.  Will they make fun of your outfit?  Your day is ruined.  Will they post about the guy you hooked up with last weekend? Your month is ruined.  Will the guy you like change is relationship status? Awesome. Will that photo of you with your top off get spread around school?  Your life if over. There is no peace.  If you don’t text someone back right away, they think you are mad at them.”

I care about the social and emotional well being of you and your kids. I believe we have way more stress in our lives than necessary.  If you feel like technology is taking over in your home, I want to empower you to set some limits for you and your children (even if it seems like no other parent is).  Technology can be addictive.  Your kids will probably not set their own boundaries just like Eileen probably would have been checking emails and facebooking, if she could have accessed it on her vacation. You can limit all cell phones after 7:00pm.  You can prevent kids from having facebook or other social media accounts.   You can honor an electronics free day, one day a week. One hour of screen time a day is a popular limitation parents of younger children use.  Try it with older kids and yourself.

Sometimes it’s easier to make positive changes for our kids than it is for us.  Use them as a motivator to do something you intuitively know is good for your family. A little TV time while Mom is making dinner saves everybody from insanity.  Helping your kids feel socially connected and part of the mainstream culture is something they will thank you for.  Tune into your instincts to know how much is too much.  Ask yourself, would I take a photo of my child right now?  What activity did my child do today that was worthy of photographing.  Most of us wouldn’t think to take pictures of our kids watching TV or sitting with their DS, because intuitively we know it’s not a memory worth preserving.  We are much more likely to photograph them cooking their first batch of cookies, building a fort, putting on a dance show, creating an obstacle course, playing a sport, camping, sledding, making art, playing school, sleepovers, picking flowers, building a treehouse, selling lemonade, etc. Don’t let modern life take you away from your instincts about what is good for your family. You already know.

Wishing you lots of photographic moments this spring.

 

Want to give life coaching a try? Schedule a free discovery call at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me