How many times have you checked your phone today? Email? Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? Linked In? Text Messages?
When is the last time you went outside to enjoy being outside? Not just running to your car because you’re late for work?
Many of us just simply do not make it a priority to spend time outside. Of course, in the northern hemisphere, the climate has a great deal to do with this. If we don’t play an outdoor sport, or actively enjoy outdoor activities, we may spend the whole winter on the couch! Alternatively, during the heat of the summer, many of us stay indoors for the air conditioning!!! This gives us way too much inside, without the opportunity to get fresh air and movement! It also gives us a great deal more access to screen time. There are many studies showing that many of us are addicted to our devices. We are compulsively checking notifications, bells, chimes and rings. We are tuned in to hear our device from miles away, even if we never let it out of our sight!
This problem is compounded for our children. The time that they spend with a device is time that they are not interacting with you or other humans.
At a young age, children look to their parents for reassurance and direction. This is where they need to receive feedback on right and wrong, as well as connecting with you while developing normal attachments. When young children play games on a screen, win a game or get an answer correct, there is no one there to offer reassurance, so they lack an opportunity for confidence building by connecting with you. The same is true when the kids are playing without a device. They look to their parents for reassurance, and if you are busy on your phone, you miss an opportunity for eye contact, a smile or something to let them know you are paying attention to them. What is the answer? Find a few hobbies that your whole family likes to do, and do them often!
Play board games, go hiking, skiing, skating, learn to dance, go swimming or learn a new healthy recipe in the kitchen together. Put your favourite devices in another room, turn off the TV and maybe put on some music instead if you are at home. It’s so easy to surf the channels for something to watch, browse YouTube, hit Netflix or scroll through your social media feeds and relax. But don’t forget to actually find some ways to spend time with your family and grow together while learning a new skill, enjoying a new hobby or connecting more frequently with your loved ones. Additionally, it is really important for you to turn your devices off at least an hour before bed to wind down naturally. Many of us work on a computer during the day, on top of having our device attached to us. The artificial light so close to our faces in the evening can wreak havoc on our circadian rhythm.
Evenings are a time to enjoy more dull light, to let our bodies know that it’s time to slow down and ease into sleep. With having around the clock access to artificial light sources, it can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. In an ideal world, we would be able to spend the evenings watching the sunset, as these are the calming colours that help to tell our brains that it’s time to start turning off for the evening. So have fun developing some new hobbies with your family, and put your phone down every once in awhile!!!