Besides setting healthy family rules around screens (like Better Screen Time’s Family Tech Think Tank!), it’s VITAL for parents to foster strong emotional relationships with their kids.
As your children grow, those two tools will help prevent issues like depression, anxiety and addiction.
I love the TED talk, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong by Johann Hari. In his talk, Johann claims that it’s not necessarily the chemical hooks or dopamine hits that suck us in when it comes to addiction, it’s the fact that these buffers (social media, video games, etc.) give us a counterfeit way to make up for emotional voids in our lives. If we have strong bonds with other humans, we are much less likely to seek fulfillment in other ways.
To quote Johann: “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.”
Solid family connections might not entirely save our kids from getting sucked into video games or other addictive behaviors—but I DO know that developing a strong, loving, unconditional relationship with our kids will help them make good choices. And it will help them know where to turn if they find themselves in trouble.
So, it’s our job as parents to model and build strong face-to-face relationships with our kids in a world that is constantly distracted and fragmented. How do we do it?
Here are 10 easy, screen-free ideas to help you connect with your kids today:
- Read a book aloud to them (you can do this with a kid of any age, not just young ones!).
- Play a board game.
- Go outside and play catch.
- Look them in the eye when they tell you something.
- Go for a walk.
- Sit with them for a few extra minutes at bedtime and let them tell you about their day.
- Watch an old family video (this does involve a screen. You could also look through old photo albums!).
- Build LEGO creations.
- Ask them to help you with dinner (this sounds like a chore, but my boys have actually gotten excited about peeling carrots before).
- Write a note & leave it on their pillow. I have a special notebook with each of my kids that we pass back & forth.
What’s YOUR favorite way to connect with your kids?