Cyber Safety Advice for Parents Blog

Is it time for the whole family to take a ‘Digital Detox’?

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Digital Detox

Every now and again, we may try to Detox our bodies, by eating healthier, exercising and generally just taking better care of ourselves. In doing so, we begin to feel better, as we release the toxins build up in our system. Some are inspired to take a step towards a detox after an overindulgence on a Holiday, or after Christmas.

Our bodies need this break to find its own balance. We shouldn’t ever forget, we need a healthy mind also. Just like the body, the mind needs a break every now and again.The motor that keeps the whole system operating is really important. Some quiet time for its own detox, especially from technology. This is called a Digital Detox.

Everywhere we look today, we see countless faces illuminated by Digital Devices. Smart TV’s, Laptops, Tablets and hand-held devices such as Smartphones are all around us. We can find ourselves consumed by these devices very quickly, without even realising it. In a coffee shop recently, I watched as people sat in silence. Their attention, not given to their companions, but to their devices.

I noticed a couple sat across from each other, neither acknowledging the presence of their partner. Only once, did I witness them interact with each other. It was not to have a conversation. This interruption from the screen, was necessary to take a selfie, just as their food arrived. One could be mistaken in thinking they did not want to be in the company of the other, as both became ever more engrossed in their device. Yet they looked so happy together, just at the moment the selfie was posed for. No doubt it was intended for friends, to show what a great time they were pretending to have.

It is even more disheartening to watch a family sit at a table with very young children. Here the device is used to appease and digitally babysit the child, as the family enjoys their meal. You will observe little, or no conversation at all between family members. The only conversation you may witness is the child giving out before they get the device, then giving out when the device is removed. Our ability to interact with each other appears to be eroding, in favour of the lure of the bright lights of a screen. Did you ever consider, if so much attention is afforded to these devices, what is being sacrificed?

Most people do not even realise, how much of their time is committed to a device. When you hear a ringtone emanating from your pocket or handbag, you might notice the pleasure centre of the brain kick in. The reward seeking part of the brain releases dopamine, this makes you feel good.

When you hear the device beckon you, it’s almost like you just received a surprise gift, you that were not expecting. You might find yourself, excitedly grabbing the device, to see if someone has liked or shared your content. Is it a message, perhaps from an old friend, or a new one? We don’t always get that pleasurable feeling, sometimes it can be a feeling of annoyance and disappointment, when you see who is attempting to make contact with. Oh God, I couldn’t deal with them now.

When disappointment strikes, how many of you ever played that game, you know the one where you have to pretend that you’re not at home, when the mobile phone rings. Did you ever look at the device as say to yourself, I’ll just let it ring out. What about telling someone you didn’t hear the call, because the device was on silent. Or the one where you tell people, sorry my phone was charging, or upstairs. You might even switch your device off or put it on flight mode, just so you can say the battery died. Any of my own friends who are reading this, I was genuine on every occasion you heard me say one of the above 😉

It is normal to take a break. A break can replenish us before we begin whatever task is at hand again. Every one of us need to take a break from our devices. There is no need to be constantly connected to others, or contactable all the time. It is ok just to put the device down for a little while. Take a moment to look around you. Chat to the person sitting next to you, instead of messaging them. Spending a bit of time in the real world, with no access to a device, is a well-deserved ‘Digital Detox’. When you first attempt a Digital Detox, it will not be plain sailing. Expect a feeling of withdrawal and anxiety, from not having access to the device. But stick with it.

Watching people spending all of their, time focused on a glowing screen, reminds me of seeing moths flying around a light source at night. We would suggest that you don’t be the moth family, mesmerised by the glow of a screen. Give it a try. Perhaps you could consider Saturday as a technology free day in the home. Get outside, go to a park, or perhaps visit somewhere you have never been before. Set a schedule when devices can be used and for how long. The earlier you start this routine with children, the easier it will be. Don’t forget, you are the parent, your house, and your rules. There are incredible benefits for everyone, if there is the foresight to withdraw from a potential Screen Addiction situation. Just like all of the nice things in life, everything in moderation.

Team @COTDAge

 

 

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