As we are all aware, we are living in unprecedented times of internet use. So, it makes sense, given all the concerns of being online in various formats, to learn how to navigate through this successfully. (I’m thinking of social media, YouTube, just being online looking things up, doing schoolwork online…you get my drift.)
Ever since the times when internet use became widely available to all, parents wanted kids to turn off their televisions, phones, desktops, laptops, etc. and spend more time doing activities which might help them be more creative, develop their communication skills more, and help them become more of their individual selves.
Of course, all of this can happen while being online, too!
As of 2019, American kids were spending up to about 8 hours a day in front of screens, with maybe one hour spent outside. The downside to so much screen time is poorer sleep quality, increased stress levels of the unhealthy kind, lessening of attention span, and more.
Did you know that when your kids spend more time doing outside activities their moods improve, their attention spans increase, and even ADHD symptoms have been clinically noted to be reduced?
Outside activities promote better quality energy release, and kids get more Vitamin D from soaking in the sunshine – a big plus when it comes to immunity. Even the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, the natural way the body has to not be depressed and feel happy, increases its production.
Since a pandemic was declared in early 2020, continuing through 2021, more than 1.5 billion kids and teens are online, learning, socializing, getting exposed to dangers like sexual exploitation and cyberbullying (or harassment), and violence (not to mention other adults).
So, what can you do about all of this?
You as parents, or even just adults, can let your government representatives know of your concerns and encourage them to offer free awareness and education on child safety while being online.
You can also learn about and implement security and protection measures already available to you if you aren’t already doing this.
You can let your schools know your concerns about being online and ask them what safety precautions they are taking on your kids’ behalf.
As to what you can do as a family unit, you can set limits on screen time and schedule activities like reading to your kids before bedtime, family night board games (or other types of games), and you can go bike riding together.
Use your imagination as to what other types of activities you and your family might relate to, and don’t be afraid to try out different things. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised (or you can know what you never want to do again, too!).
Since many things have reopened, maybe you can go miniature golfing or go to a museum! Maybe your family enjoys tennis. Or perhaps you can equip your back yard with games like building a labyrinth or shoot some hoops.
You’re only limit is your imagination!
It’s also a good idea to check on everyone’s mental health during such times. If you have a good insurance plan, you might have counseling services available. There are also many free services out there, so check your local areas for information.
Supporting your mental health will also help support your physical health, and vice versa. So, make sure you and your family eat plenty of fresh veggies in the form of salads, lightly steamed, or stir-fried, fresh whole grains (if you are inclined to eat them), and good quality protein sources. Go easy on highly processed foods, especially wheat and other refined grains and anything with sugar and other chemicals in it.
For those of you who eat meat, I often find high quality meat in the marked down section of my grocery store. I buy and throw them in the freezer. I’ve been doing that a long time and have never had anything go bad on me.
Above all else, practice excellent self-care, both for yourselves and your kids, and teach your kids how to do this too!
And, as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
- Dr. P