Inside: Teens and the amount of time they are spending on screens is becoming increasingly concerning. Doing a family digital detox can be just the solution.
Screens are everywhere. And honestly, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Digital addiction is a real “thing” that teens and adults both battle. We are all guilty of sitting on the couch and binging hours of Netflix or “zoning” out and just scrolling on our phones.
Taking a break from the digital world is actually something that each and every one of us needs to do every once in a while (and we all may be feeling that even more so right now). While it can be easier said than done, once you give it a go and do it, you’ll mostly likely be so thankful that you did.
Truly ask yourself how many “special” moments in life you have missed out on because your nose was stuck in your phone while you were aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. You’re not alone, we’ve all been there and had it happen as well. And while it may be hard to admit it, taking a break and stepping away from screens is just what you and your family may need.
As a parent, you can help control the digital reliance that you and your teens have on screens. If you feel that it’s time for you and your family to have a digital detox, then you can approach this in several ways.
4 Types of Digital Detox to Consider for Your Family
Cold Turkey Digital Detox
This can be the most difficult, but it is often the one that is the most rewarding and provides the most benefits. Some families use a vacation as a good way to implement this. Just decide that phones and other devices will be for emergencies only. But even at home, you can collect all the phones and turn off all the other devices and set rules for any minimal use that might be required. Then settle in and check out the list below for ways to feel your now tech free time. You may be amazed at how quickly everyone adapts and how much happier everyone seems even after just a short time.
One Day A Week Digital Detox
The more popular option that many families choose is to do a one day a week detox. Typically this is a Saturday or Sunday when devices aren’t as needed for daily life. It’s just a chance to really have a day of rest and to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect as a family.
Time Of Day Digital Detox
Another approach that many family employ is to set aside a certain time of day that is screen free for everyone. It’s great if it can start of end with dinner time. Cell phones and other devices really don’t belong at a family dinner and can be disruptive to the benefits this time provides to kids in terms of self confidence and just general mental health. At least a two hour period is usually needed to see some results. And again, consider using the time to create some quality family time using the ideas below.
Social Media Digital Detox
Some active social media users simply take a break from Instagram, Facebook, X, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. because their mental health depends on it. An article published on Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials section discusses how damaging social media can be to teens’ psyche and why it’s important to take a break. Yes, social media connects us the world and to our friends and family, but it can also trigger anxiety and depression and affect self-esteem. Some teens often feel left out or get stuck in the comparison trap through social media. Others experience cyberbullying or harassment and can even feel unsafe after spending time online. Detoxing digitally, especially from social media, is a good idea for teens and adults to reclaim their own well-being and cleanse their mind of all those ugly toxins.
No matter what you choose there can be some BIG benefits to spending some tech free time as a family.
5 Family Benefits of a Digital Detox
1. Game nights can become a weekly tradition again.
The best part of no electronics? You and your family will have time for other activities together. And nothing says family fun like game night. Pull out the deck of cards or dust off that good ol’ classic game of Monopoly, and get ready for a night full of teamwork, bonding, and family fun.
2. Conversations will flow freely.
Missing the conversations that you used to have with your teens or maybe you’ve never had them? By taking a break from the TV and the tablets, the words will start to flow in your house. And aren’t words a beautiful thing? The fewer distractions for family members to zone in to, the more time that you will all have to enjoy each other’s company.
3. Reprogramming of the brain.
Let’s be 100% honest with one another…we all get tunnel vision when using digital products. We zone in on exactly what we are doing at that moment, and everything else is just in the background. Conversations are missed, as are all the experiences going on around us. With your family taking a much-needed digital detox, it allows each and every one of you to reprogram your brain back to the basics of what makes your family life so very important.
4. Exploring new interests.
How will you and your family members ever discover if you like doing outdoor adventures together if you never do them? Put down that electronic and take a much-needed family trip to the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, and camping, oh my!
5. Detoxing gives you time to reconnect with your children.
Why spend the next few years guessing about what your children like? When the electronics are down, the guessing is gone. You have that time to watch them do other things, pick their brains on activities that they would want to try to explore and help to also open their minds to all the amazing things that wait for them past the glowing of the screen.
6. A teen digital detox empowers your son or daughter to take control over their own life.
As Psychology Today reports, “Many young people desire more education and information surrounding realistic ways to disengage from social media use, either as a temporary break or as a longer-term lifestyle change.” Most of this generation has been participating in some sort of digital media since preschool (even if it was just a counting app on a tablet) and, as teenagers, they’re starting to see how toxic it can be to stare at a screen and tap into the internet all day long. A teen digital detox can help cleanse their mind and reset their mental health a bit so they can return to their online world refreshed and with a healthier approach.
Your teens are only going to be with you for a few more years, but the internet will remain forever. Instead of worrying about Instagramming every little thing or trying to tell the Facebook world about your day, put down your phone and just “be” in the moment.
Not only is it a great example for your teens to follow, but it shows them the true importance of the day-to-day as well. And the great thing about a digital detox? It doesn’t have to be something that is for forever. While a detox here and there is important, it can also be something that is intermittent, too. Try taking a digital break together as a family and see all the great benefits that accompany!
For an additional resource on raising teens and tweens in a digital world, we recommend Growing Up in Public by Devorah Heitner. Like it or not, our teens are growing up in a world that’s different from the one we grew up in. We have to effectively parent kids who live online—there’s no other way around it. Growing Up in Public shows parents how to help tweens and teens navigate boundaries, identity, privacy, and reputation in their digital world.
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