“I’d rather be without my pants than my phone.” This is a post I read recently while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. While humorous, the post highlights our dependence on technology in our everyday lives that some find concerning.
Unquestionably, there are many benefits to using our electronic devices. We can connect with anyone, anytime and almost anywhere. I cannot say that I am willing to trade my pants for my phone, but I do admit that I dread those days when I forget my phone at home.
This increasing dependence on technology is leading researchers to examine the impact of technology on our social, mental and physical health. One of the greatest areas of concern is the negative effects technology may have on child development. Some of these effects include: impaired social skills, delayed communication, isolation, decreased attention spans, obesity, addictive behavior, sleeping problems and mental health issues.
In the meantime, I am organizing my 4th annual Unplug & Play Week for Family Literacy Week. I want to raise awareness of technology use in my community. Families will be encouraged to unplug from technology and spend time together.
Experts agree that children acquire communication and social skills through listening, talking, reading, singing, and playing with their parents or caregivers. When parents are more actively engaged and involved, children tend to do better academically.
Realistically, most people would find it extremely difficult to unplug for an entire week – I know I would! Here are some suggestions on how to unplug a bit more in your home:
Explore Family Literacy Week “What’s on My Plate” activities: Decoda Literacy Solutions has created some fun activity sheets for families. Talk, taste, count and cook your way through the week!
Create regular tech-free times: Make devices (televisions, phones, computers) off limits at specific times during the day. Dinnertime and before bed are especially important times to be device-free. If you are sitting around the table texting while eating, you are not connecting to each other. Teach your children to connect by talking face-to-face.
Create tech-free spaces: Make certain rooms or zones in your home free of devices, so your family can get away from digital distractions. Bedrooms are great places to be device-free.
Designate tech-free outings: Take a trip to a farm or have a playdate in the park and leave your electronic devices at home. An activity can go undocumented once in a while. Not every moment needs to be shared on Facebook. Putting the phones away allows everyone to enjoy fun, uninterrupted moments and there is more time to focus on talking and communicating with each other.
Use technology in an interactive way: If you are using a phone or other device, use it with your kids - together. Talk about what you see, ask them questions, let the device be a complement to your face-to-face conversation.
Ultimately, strive for moderation when it comes to technology use. Be aware of your and your child’s tech habits, and make time away from all screens a daily family ritual. You could even have your phone send you a daily notification to remind you of family time!
Celebrate Family Literacy Week 2018 from January 21 - 28 by putting down your devices and connecting with your kids the old fashioned way! Family Literacy Week events are happening in communities across BC!
(Source: Parents of Young Children Put Down Your Smartphones)
Community Literacy Coordinator
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy – Arrow and Slocan Lakes