Dr. Amy Stark

Child Psychologist, Author & Speaker

Specializing in:
Teaching Families How to Live Divorced
and Self-Esteem for Girls and Boys

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Electronic Control

The next time you go out to dinner, take a look around the restaurant. Chances are you will see people, at most tables, not engaged in conversation with each other. You will likely see people checking their phones or gaming on their electronic devices.

Ask yourself this: can you get through a meal without checking your phone for emails or texts? Do you get up first thing in the morning and check your messages? Are you on your phone or lap top right up until you go to bed?

If you are doing this, this is the model you are giving your children. It’s hard to know just how much electronics have taken over your life until you actually stop using them. Then you see how far-reaching the problem is.

Stopping cold turkey is not practical. Here are four practical ways to put electronic device use in balance:

  1. Start with keeping your phone away from your bed. Put your charging station on the kitchen counter. Ask your kids to do the same.This will stop you from getting up in the middle of the night to check a message and will give you uninterrupted sleep.
  2. Stop using devices at least one hour before bedtime, so you can relax. Teach your children to do the same. In this way the blue screen will not impact your body's ability to make melatonin and you can actually sleep.
  3. Have every member of the family put their phones and devices on the counter during meals. Give actual eye contact during the meal and have your kids really share with you. In this way you will all hear each other without distraction.
  4. Make sure that your kids have a limit on gaming time. Some of their socialization needs to involve actual face to face contact, so that they learn how to 'read' their friends. Social contact involves more than Fortnite contact. Kids should also make plans to do something else.

Remember, what you do is just as important as what you say. Keep your own device use in check as well. When you teach your kids moderation and that taking text breaks is good, they will learn this from you. It will enhance their friendships and help free up their minds to process their day. This is a marvelous age of information. Put in balance, it enhances everyone's lives.

* Disclaimer:
Dr. Stark's Web site is not intended to take the place of a court-ordered advice or the advice of another professional. Although you may use the input found here to your best advantage, we recommend that you do so in conjunction with the work that you are doing with your individual therapist. Remember: this Web site is not therapy; it's knowledge and support.

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