8 tips for a Digital Detox Diet for your family
Created by Nalini Updated on Oct 07, 2020
One of the often asked questions, by parents today, is how do I get my child off the screen? Whether the child is 2-years-old or 12-years-old, screen toxicity is a real issue for urban families. Here is a sample Digital Detox Diet that can help ease out from screen time. As with any Detox Diet, this requires discipline and determination. And after all, as parents, we are the role models for our child. This diet shall get best results when followed as a family!
Step 1.: Determine the level of digital involvement. If high, a more stringent plan is required.
Step 2.: Make a plan as a couple on what you will do and not do. Ensure you are aligned and committed; else, it will loose steam after a while.
Step 3.: Speak to your child and explain what you are doing and why. It is best to get them on board. If they don't agree completely to your plan, then make a few changes that can help them. Include yourself in the plan as that would get them keen. (My husband loves to play games on the mobile and so does my 12- year-old son. It often affects their work. 2 weeks ago, my husband agreed with my son that both of them will not touch screen games for a whole week . Both kept their word!)
Step 4.: Execute the plan. Reward the family for milestones.
Here are some tips on what can be included in the plan:
Tip 1 : Parents share that their toddlers refuse to eat meals without the screen. I have seen this with my own nephews and niece and at one time, suffered with my children too. The best way is to pull out the plug from the TV, and keep all other gadgets out of sight during meal times. Instead, play some alternative verbal games with your child. Do this for 3 continuous days, all meals. It's like weaning your child off the bottle.
Tip 2 : Have a “no virtual games” week every month where none of you will play games on any kind of gadget. Post this week, agree on a fixed time for virtual games for each of you. Do not let it be more than 1 hour in the day.
Tip 3 : Have your kids hand in their phones during study time. (I have seen my daughter get distracted by Whatsapp, Facebook, Imessage, Snapchat, etc while she is trying to work. You would agree, it is impossible to concentrate (and most unproductive too.) Give it back to them once they have completed the agreed work. Ever since my daughter has tasted her own productivity, she hands me her phone on her own (most of the time).
Tip 4 : Any time that is now left free because screen time has been reduced, should be planned. Do not leave that free time unplanned. It will lead to restlessness. Ever tried dieting or fasting? The day we decide to fast is the day we feel most hungry, especially for foods we have not had in weeks! So it is the same with digital detox diets. Plan for a family game, outing or go to the park. Ask friends to join you outdoors.
Tip 5 : A friend recently shared that they have a rule when the family gets together. A basket is kept on a side table and everyone has to put their mobile/tab in the basket when they sit for dinner! How often have we seen people sitting together at a meal but all engaged in their own gadget! Get that basket and fix times when all gadgets go in there.
Tip 6: Spend that non-gadget time to have a REAL conversation with your family. I find my kids love to share what happened at school and about their teachers. It took my son a bit of time to open up but over the time, he has and now looks forward to it. We can't do that if we are busy taking calls, playing games or reading that social post on Facebook.
Tip 7 : Turn off notifications on your phone, especially the ones from Whatsapp, Facebook and other group-based chats. Let your friends and family know if they have to reach you urgently, they should call or SMS. I personally only have notification for SMS, calls and emails. I stop looking at emails between 5 pm and 9.30 pm. On the days I don't follow this discipline, I find myself losing focus on what my children are telling me.
Tip 8 :Keep all devices out of the bedroom. They can get charged in another room. Get back to using an alarm clock rather than the phone. This will give you a half an hour window to think about the day when you wake up than instantly reach out for the phone and get absorbed in it.
Choose the tips that will work for you and follow steps 1-4. Be under no illusion. This will be tough and there will be many a time that you may want to give in for yourself or for your child who may throw a tantrum and somehow shall have the stamina to go on for a few days. You need to be convinced that this will work. Hang in there and share your successes with us.
This blog is written by Nalini Dhariwal with support from Parentune. She has 3 kids aged 8-13 years and is a Director at Youreka Campouts.
Disclaimer: This blog is a special initiative to help parents help their children live richer lives by reducing screen time in their lives. The blog has been supported by Youreka Campouts .
| Mar 26, 2015
Though i like the tips.. i doubt the efficacy as much. in an environment where in laws are quite glued to thier TV programs, and husbands get back home after a 1. 5 hour traffic jam, and just wants to watch or play by himself.. its difficult telling the child he should not.. and others can...
| Jun 02, 2017
wonderful tips. I follow almost all of those. I myself am not attracted to tv. I keep notifications off in my phone. But what I could not do , that is to turn off the tv during meal time. My family members are fond of watching tv during lunch and dinner. I cannot approach them to stop it. I fixed up my daughter 's screen time. She rarely plays games in gadgets. Parentune help me to plan her time innovatively. Thanks Parentune.