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Monday, November 30, 2020

Talk to your children before technology does

With isolation in our connected world and depression rising, smartphone addiction awareness charity MoodOff Day has focused their upcoming seventh International Awareness Day on 24 February on children. With this year’s motto of ‘Talk to Your Children Before Technology Does’, the campaign is about connecting with the people closest to you – not your phone.

In today’s fast-paced, digitised world, our daily demands often see us racing between things with long to-do lists in hand, inadvertently multi-tasking our way through our days that never seem to have enough hours in them.

With social media certainly not being a short-lived craze, many of us are shackled to our smartphones more than we realise. Add the numerous emails, text and SMS messages, Google searches and constant consumption of content, many of us are on our phones 24/7.

Research shows that smart phone users on average spend a minimum of 35 hours per week on our devices. So, full-time workers spend almost the same time again away from our loved ones – off in the digital realm.

And while we all have excuses why we do this, we often overlook the fact that we role-model to our youngsters a behaviour that is essentially ruled by our digital devices. Sure, our lives have been digitised and our kids will face even more of this, with over 40% of the jobs our primary school aged children will perform not even existing yet and 60% of these being technology based. But, do we deprive our young children of the essential human and interpersonal skills and the connection we require in order to navigate our fast-changing world in positive ways?

On MoodOff Day, we are asked to turn off our phone for five hours on the morning of Sunday 24 February. Some might complain ‘how on earth am I going to manage that’ – but therein lies the reason. Are you addicted to your smartphone? What about your kids? Are we using our devices to make our lives easier or are they ruling every part of our day and impeding upon family time, me-time or uninterrupted time with our kids?

If you can’t go for five hours without your smartphone, chances are you’re addicted to it. And while we may have valid excuses to use them, young children only do so because we sample this for them or hand it to them for our convenience. While we might think it’s acceptable to start our day by checking social media, and after a long day of frequently checking our screens (on average 10 times per hour) to finish our day by scrolling before falling asleep, it may not be a good foundation for our little ones.

Concerns about the impacts of smart devices have long been mounting with more research pointing to increasingly addictive behaviour among smartphone users of all ages – but especially young people and children. It’s not about doing without these devices, but raising awareness so we can use them in ways that minimise the negative impacts of them.

Visit www.moodoffday.com to learn more about the smartphone addiction awareness campaign.

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