“Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever, communication is not just about words.” (Ref Jim Taylor, Psychologist)
Between the ages of 0-12years of age, kids learn so much from parents. You are their primary role model. They are at a stage where they still believe you to have the most knowledge; they look up to you and believe every word you say. This may not be the case when you are dealing with 12-18 year olds. I would always advise parents to use this time to instill strong family values, traditions, beliefs and communication skills.
They take in a lot more than we think, they are naturally nosey and want to know and see all that we do as parents.
Children have to develop emotional skills, they do this by developing neural pathways that expand based on stimulation like a parents voice, music, touch and eventually play. If young children are spending more time on a screen than on face-to-face communication (play, hug, sound, touch) their neural pathways change and different ones are created. It affects concentration, self-esteem, communication skills, coping skills. They loose empathy.
Think of it as the difference between looking at a picture of clear blue water and running barefoot through the waves.
The problem is the more time people and children interact with each other through a screen rather than in real life, the less emotion is attached to the exchange. This has major repercussions.
Tips on how to keep face-to-face communication alive in your home
Include your children (where appropriate) in adult chat at the table, with adult family members and friends. A child who grows up being dismissed when there are adults around is rarely able to communication confidently with adults during their teenage years.
Regularly set up times (quiet and uninterrupted) where you can chat with your child about what is going on in both of your lives. Help your child understand that it is ok to feel angry, upset, lonely, frustrated – that you have these feelings too. Teach him how to cope with his feelings and how to open up about them. Sometimes explaining how you cope with your own feelings helps normalize things for him. Becoming aware of different emotions and feeling confident enough to talk about them is a hugely valuable life lesson.
Emails, texts and messaging lack the emotive qualities of face-to-face interaction. Does a friendly emoji replace a hug or even a phone call? Does a smiley face replace face-to-face laugh out loud communication?
Try to make time to play cards, monopoly (old fashioned board games)
Make the time to go on family walks, trips, picnics – if they grow up enjoying these outings at a young age you have a much better chance of them wanting to spend family time together during the teenage years.
Think of it as a building block of communication, if you do not take the time to get the foundation right, there may be no strength in the finished structure.
Time is the answer – * give them time * turn off your phone * learn to listen * share your feelings * share your experiences as a child * find a balance for virtual life and real life * set boundaries and stick to them.
“….when in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work.” – Anna Quindlen