How to have a Low Tech Summer in a High Tech Age

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How to have a Low Tech Summer in a High Tech Age

Yes, we made it! The summer holidays are just around the corner. While parents are packing and children

rejoicing we have noticed that the pre-summer holiday conversation has shifted from “what are you planning to do all day?” to “how are we going to keep our children off their devices all day?”

As a parent and school psychologist I worry about effects of technology on our children psychological, neurological and physical development. I know I am not alone.

Research has found that children today move less, use their imagination less, engage in less thinking, do less chores and rely on technology for the majority of their play. These rapid changes in technology have affected their motor development, sensory processing systems, social skills and overall health.

Perhaps its unrealistic and even unnecessary to aspire towards a completely tech free life. After all, entwined in the complexities of technology are several benefits which can be enjoyed if we find the right balance. A more realistic approach is probably a low tech lifestyle. So how do we strive for a low tech summer when everything from communication, education, entertainment, shopping and even sport involves some form of technology?

Depending on your child’s developmental stage the first step is to go through the drill of educating or reminding your child of the basics of why a low tech way is the smart way. I like to explain it quite simply by sharing that although I absolutely love most aspects of technology the following research based findings highlighting 5 things happen to us with technology over use:

  1. Technology can actually alter the wiring of the brain. It can make us good at finding information but worse at remembering it.
  2. Technology can affect our ability to read nonverbal cues and affect our ability to empathize with others. This is because nonverbal skill development requires human interaction which is obviously minimized with increased screen time.
  3. The overuse of technology can significantly affect a child’s mood and sense of wellbeing which is visible through their reactions to others.
  4. Even minimal technology use can compromise your security and identity. It is a well known fact that nothing is safe online so protect yourself, always.
  5. The more you use technology the less active you will be and this is one of the top 3 causes of child and adult obesity currently.

The next step is to set some non tech goals with your child and treat them like summer projects. These could be skill based for example learning how to play the guitar from scratch, doing 100 push ups, practicing public speaking, learning a new language or even writing a book to publish online. Help your child identify the steps involved for each project to help them attain their goals. Learning something new stimulates the release of happy chemicals in the brain, especially if the task is moderately challenging. The sense of achievement they will feel will be celebrated by everyone and should be praised every step of the way.

Finally, help your child engage in activities that involve movement. Children are intrinsically movement based and technology can lure them into tuning out that basic physical need. Movement activates all the brain cells a child uses to learn. It sparks neurological pathways in the most magnificent way. In fact, aside from improving a sense of wellbeing movement improves children’s attention span and cognitive processing speed. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Our children are always watching us, so as we remember to model the behavior we wish to see I wish you all a wonderfully low tech summer.

From all of us at Fortes Education, Happy Holidays!

Devika Mankani
Psychologist
Fortes Education & The Hundred Wellness Centre

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