Unplug from the Digital World at Home

Every other week we hear stories about teenagers developing depression due to an addiction to technology and social media. What we don’t hear are the stories of teenagers and children developing depression because their PARENTS are addicted to technology. How does this show itself?

How many times have you seen parents at a restaurant or on the MTR ignoring their young children, preferring instead to gaze at their phones? Children love to share their day and tell you about their stories from school. This is impossible if a parent is more interested in digital platforms than them. Many children are collected from school by domestic helpers and face the same treatment, being ignored in favour of a screen.

Whilst many look down at millennials glued to their screens, few are able to recognise that they do the same thing.  It’s easy to point the finger at teenagers – “they’re young and easily influenced”. What’s not easy is admitting that their problem can also be your problem too.

Millennials are not the only generation of people who rely on technology – the majority of the modern world has a smartphone. And there’s no denying that smartphones have been really good to us! We can send an email across the globe with a flick of a finger. We can check the weather, the time in San Francisco as well as receive live updates of the football in England. Smartphones have halved the time of some tasks and made many menial jobs quick and efficient.

So what's so bad about using your smartphone? That's what it's there for right?

It’s completely understandable that parents have a lot to juggle, especially in busy cities and just want time to unwind. The problem isn’t that there is technology, rather when is an appropriate time and place to use it.

The Negative Impact This Situation Has on Children:

Parents constantly complain about how annoying it is when children are not giving them their full attention and are scrolling through messages whilst being given instructions.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but attention parents: children find this equally as annoying and unfair.

For children of any age, things like parental approval and attention are so important and so valued. Unfortunately, if a parent is on their phone, a child may feel insignificant or even less important than the latest post. At this point in the school year, parents are needed more than ever. There are exams and the results to be dealt with, sometimes changes to be made or summer activities to be organised. This all takes time, yes, but the value of talking directly to your child about these issues cannot be underestimated. 

Competing for a parents attention often encourages sibling rivalry. Competing against a smartphone could be termed digital rivalry!

Children today are feeling more isolated, and in some cases, even a second priority. By placing the phone ahead of your child you are sending a powerful message. The nature of this message is up to you.

What a Change Can Do:

Just by talking about your child’s day can really make a difference to their attitude towards school and to any future conversations you may need to have as they get older. A child who has been brought up to communicate openly with the family will continue to do so. You may really only see the benefit of this as they mature into young adults.

Spending quality time with family – making an effort to talk – being open to discussing anything your child is interested in, will have great rewards later. A positive impact on your child’s attitude and willingness to talk about any issues will lead to open relationships in the future. Youngsters who feel comfortable and connected are more likely to talk about more serious issues.

It is important to be “connected” with your family as well as the digital world. Make a positive decision today: decide what are “no mobile zones/times”, for all the family, and keep to them strictly (everyone)!

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