I received some info this week about a piece of research where 1000 children had been surveyed – it said that “49% of British under-12s say they would be sad without internet access and 1 in 5 would be lonely.”
Here were the other results which made me raise an eyebrow!
• 70% of teenagers chat on Facebook
• Two year olds dominate the family iPad
• Children perform more daily tasks online than adults
Now I like the internet, heck i’m talking to you through it! But I am an adult and I balance this activity with many other things in my life. Reading this research made me feel a bit uneasy when I consider that children could be emotionally affected if they didn’t have access to the internet.
Would I be upset with no internet? Nope! (Although it would make life more challenging in some ways – easier in others). But for kids to have such a strong emotional attachment to technology makes me think. How often do they use it? How does it affect their relationships with their family, with others and the world?
Where does their emotional energy go?
In terms of connection and energy, whilst a child sits for periods of time in front of a screen (whether it be PC or TV) their energy and awareness are connected only to the images/words on that screen. In other words, they are plugging into their own little world. If they do this constantly could they then they grow up emotionally connected to this and not the ‘real’ people in their lives or perhaps only connecting to others emotionally through this screen in front of them?
It’s easy to slip into the world of the ‘net’ even as an adult. I work from home and so does my husband so often we’ll ’email’ or ‘message’ each other for one of us to make a cup of tea or as a reminder to do something (we sit in different ‘offices’). However we also take time to sit and talk to each other when we are having lunch, making dinner or when we are out walking the dog. It’s all about balance.
Connecting to kids through ‘life’
Perhaps we need to take a little bit of time away from this screen and to connect to our children in a way that lets them know that we are here. Letting them know there are other connections and relationships around them in the ‘real world’.
We can use day to day life routines to connect. We can talk with them at dinner. One of my friends does this with her family every day where everyone shares one ‘good’ thing and one ‘not so good thing’ about their day – everyone listens and they can discuss around the dinner table.
We can choose to walk rather than drive somewhere (or if we do have to drive most days, then take some time out of the schedule to go into a place where there is grass, trees, waves, birds singing – eg nature) and ask kids to listen to what they can hear (first intently and then describe what they hear). They can also notice what they can see (and then describe).
Connecting through Simple Meditation
We can sit opposite them and ask them to look into our eyes and smile (and laugh) and feel how that feels in their body (you can also notice how it feels in yours). We can ask them to close their eyes and feel our breath touching their face as we breath out (and we can feel their breath touch us). We can hold hands and feel the warmth of our fingers touching. We can ask our children to give this activity a name so it becomes the ‘peace game’ or whatever they choose to call it. So many simple, beautiful connections we can make with our children that let them know we are there.
We just need to take a moment and choose to spend some time to be with them in a connected way (not rushing about from A to B or us adults taking mobile phone calls as we walk with them). If we give our full heartfelt connection to them for a few minutes every day … we know that they won’t feel sad if the internet screen dies…
(Research source: Kids under-12 feel “sad” without internet connection )