Dr. Amy Stark
Child Psychologist, Author & Speaker
Teaching Families How to Live Divorced
and Self-Esteem for Girls and Boys
Food For Thought
Unplugged for the Summer
Most children and adolescents are addicted to their electronics. How you can tell is their reaction to its removal. Children are gaming and texting until wee hours of the morning. It’s impacting their sleep, causing them to feel disconnected to others, interfering with reading, schoolwork and exercise. It is causing depression and anxiety. Parents are not emotionally connecting as much as they should either, because the demands and the use of their own electronic devices has become addicting to them as well.
Just as you would not hand opium to your child, you can't hand electronics to your kids without checking how often and for how long they use them. It’s good to remember that the same part of your brain that gets stimulated by drugs is the part that gaming stimulates. You cannot allow this to take over your children's lives.
So, this summer begin the process of helping yourself and your children learn how to unplug, use games and electronics judiciously and with limits.
1. Set a time for when everything gets shut down for the day. During school, no gaming during the week. On weekends, three to fours hours a day at most.
2. Make sure you also shut down your own electronic use. You cannot ask your children to do something you also cannot master.
3. Watch what your children are doing. Do you really want them to be thinking about how best to kill and move to the next level during math and reading at school?
4. No devices during dinner. Connect. Actually talk about the day and give your undivided attention.
5. Monitor their social contact. Make sure they aren't 'liking' things that are not good for them or will harm them long term on the internet. Watch out for bullying.
6. Make time for board games, jigsaw puzzles, playing croquet or something outside.
7. Up to sixth grade, you should be reading a chapter book together. Read aloud and have your child read aloud. Talk about the book and improve their comprehension.
Make electronic use not the focus but a tool to use. Do so by demonstrating your own mastery. Make sure you use parental controls. Kids can get in a lot of trouble very quickly when left unmonitored. Revel in simple things. Show you can also enjoy simple things and that sometimes downtime is just as important.
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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