It is the time of year where kids are asking Santa for legos and dolls, bikes and boardgames–but also new cell phones, and gaming systems too. In a world where technology has woven itself into most aspects of our lives, there shouldn’t be any surprises when your 6 year old asks for an iPhone X, or your 4 year old wants a Playstation. Take care when choosing technology for your kids–be they 7 or 17, as the gift of more technology is really a gift of stolen time.
When it comes to teens, technology contributing to “stolen time” has gone too far.
45% of teens, especially aged 13-18, spend more time online (social media, video-streaming, etc.) almost constantly. 44% of teams talk about being online several times a day–for a total of 89% of teens being online on a regular basis. When teens are online, they are doing everything from Snapchatting with friends to posting/reading on Reddit, watching videos on YouTube and online gaming. When they are in the midst of these activities, they aren’t:
- Engaging with friends or family (meals, conversations, activities)
- Being active (sports, walks, outdoor pursuits)
- Practicing self-care (eating, sleeping, hygiene, cleaning)
- Learning (listening in class, doing homework, reading, participating)
Teens are losing out on life. They send pictures of smiles instead of actually smiling. They are playing games virtually instead of together. Have they come up with some amazing stuff? Absolutely! But at what cost?
In the past, teens spend approximately 2-2.5 hours per day watching TV. With the advent of portable technology, that number has increased to about 6 hours (as of 2016). According to a recent study by the Pew Research Centre, teens have admitted to worry about their usage levels. In secondary schools, the concept of “cell phone addiction” is an everyday reality. In my own building, observing the stress levels and anxiety from a cell phone confiscation is nothing less than alarming (almost as much as a student who has had their vaping device taken).
So, when hitting the mall–think twice about what your teen wants, and ponder instead what they really need. A $800 cell phone could translate into a course at university, a trip at Spring break. A new game for the XBOX could be swimming lessons…Not all technology is bad, but shouldn’t those opportunities that arise beyond the screen are the ones we want to get for our kids?
So, think twice before getting the latest and greatest tech, and about having those importance conversations and limits in place surrounding technology. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!