Like most other parents, we didn't realize the harmful effects of excess gadget use when we first introduced it to our kids a couple of years back. It seemed like a simple new technology back then, until we started reading recent results of research after research from experts around the world detailing how prolonged use could negatively affect the well-being of a child.
What made us finally decide to put a stop to it though was seeing how addictive gadget use can get for some kids and how prolonged use can affect their attention span and behavior. It can make some kids irritable, impatient, so easily bored when offline, and unable to focus on some tasks.
We decided that the only way to curb the need to use the tablet or phone all the time was to put our 6-year-old son through what others call "digital detox." We removed his gadgets from the picture for a few weeks until he stopped depending on it too much.
The first day was the most difficult not just for our son but for us, too. We had to stick to our decision and not be tempted to give in and hand over the phone even just for a few minutes to soothe him. It was a decision my husband and I promised to enforce and see through.
It was tough for a few more days. We had to stay firm but calm so we could talk to our kid and patiently explain the purpose of the detox. We had to spend more time with him to help him make sense of the changes and answer his questions. We had to give him lots of hugs and encouragement too.
And because we had to take away something that had kept him entertained and occupied for so long, we had to reintroduce my son to the fun life offline. This required time, patience, and lots of energy as we had to teach him activities and keep him away from the lure of the gadgets.
Our one-week detox turned into two weeks until without realizing it's been more than a month now. Our son has gotten used to not using a gadget that he has stopped asking for it. We didn't know that this was ever going to be possible.
Here are other amazing changes we've seen after our son's digital detox.
1. My son started playing with his toys again.
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After a week, our kid started noticing toys he hasn't played with in a while. He searched for ways to entertain himself. He also started playing with his 3-year-old sister more. They did pretend play, built Lego castles, played luto-lutuan, and made paper planes and boats.
2. My son started helping out with chores at home more.
He got so bored out of his wits he started to look for things to do. Helping out around the house began to seem like a fun activity to do. He started cleaning his playroom more with enthusiasm, and not just to be rewarded with gadget time. He started concentrating on the task and enjoying it. I never thought I would see my two children fight over who gets to wipe the table.