What is Childhood Unplugged
You may have seen posts online tagged with #childhoodunplugged or heard the term dropped into conversation. But have you ever actually stopped to think about what it means?
Monica Calderin the creator of the blog Childhood Unplugged works alongside several other mothers who document their children living their “Childhood Unplugged”. They share images and videos of their children playing away from the glare of a computer screen or video game, unplugging from the world of technology - a challenge nowadays that most parents face on a daily basis.
Think back to your childhood, maybe you spent your time climbing trees, or splashing in puddles or playing hide and seek or giggling over board games. How much time did you spend in front of a screen - if any time at all. Were the best memories in front of a screen or were they created in an unplugged environment?
No matter what age you are, it’s impossible to deny that technology has become a part of our everyday life and it is becoming a part of children's life, at a frightening pace.
In the digital world we live, it can seem like knowing how to use technology is essential for future schooling, careers and success. While technology can act as a valuable education tool for children, there is a fine line between using technology responsibly and abusing it. Ultimately your child should have a healthy balance of limited time on their technology and active play.
Disadvantageous / Risks of Technology
If you’re in the habit of using the iPad as a babysitter then maybe the risks will make you think twice about putting your child down in front of a screen to keep them entertained.
Although parents tend to use movies and TV shows as a way to wind down for bed, this can backfire. The blue light emitted from the screen can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle and the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep.
Social interaction / Social Awareness
Playing games on screens is a very isolating way to play. You might be interacting with other characters/people on the screen but it is often through text, not talking out loud or using emotional cues as in real life. Stepping away from the screen and playing a real life game such as a board game enables human interaction. You all interact to play the game, talking and asking questions, reading people's emotions through visual cues and responding to them. This is an essential life skill and something that children are still developing so it is important that they don’t spend all their time interacting through a screen and actually learn these face to face skills.
When using technology everything is at your fingertips instantly. No more waiting for ads on the TV you can access shows instantly without ads. No more waiting for someone to get off the phone to connect to the internet, you can access the internet whilst simultaneously talking on the phone! In the tech savvy world we live in today it’s not uncommon to be doing multiple tasks at any one time, but with this multi tasking comes problems with focus and attention especially in young children whose minds are still developing.
How to Unplug
Whether it's a few hours of TV or video games per day or per week, set time limits that your child is allowed to use the technology for. More importantly once you’ve set the limits, stick to them. No extra hours for good behaviour.
Be a role model
Your children learn their behaviour from watching you. If you’re on your phone while spending time with them they’ll feel like they have to compete for your attention, or worse feel that the screen is more important to you.
Have you ever been out to lunch with a friend and they pull their phone out and start scrolling so you pull yours out too? The same applies here, children will mirror what you do so make sure you’re unplugging at the appropriate times to.
A balance between technology and unplugging will look different for everyone, because no two families are the same. Balance for your family might look very different to balance in other families, it all depends on parenting styles and really there is no simple correct method. Generally, if you feel confident about how your kids use technology and they are also involved in physical and social activities, you’ve lost the little voice inside of your head asking “Have they been in front of a screen for too long today?” then it’s likely you’ve found balance.
We would love to hear your thoughts around the Childhood Unplugged movement. Comment them below.