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Whether for the purposes of school or entertainment, and even to keep tabs with mom and dad, kids are being given smartphones at younger ages than ever before.

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When kids and teens aren’t with friends, they’re on their phones, especially on social media.

But how does digital technology change the way we think, focus, concentrate, and interact with the larger world around us?

Children’s minds are far more malleable and open to suggestion than adults. This is why digital media and technology should be treated with caution and moderation — even in young people’s teenage years.

Here’s a look at how you can raise well-balanced children in the digital age.

Set The Example

Constant or near constant use of digital technology decreases attention span in adults, as well as children.

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Whether at school or at work, thorough attention to detail aids in our perception, memory, creative thought, problem solving. and much more.

The same can’t be said of people who constantly bury their heads in their smartphones; you’ve probably noticed how people are rarely without their smartphone while at bus stops, the grocery store, or a coffee shop.

A variety of factors play into why people immerse themselves in technology. But when people are waiting — doctors’ visits, movies, work meetings — their lives often feel like they’re on hold.

One way for them to feel connected with the world is with their mobile devices — and you’re probably no different.

Cut down on your own screen time to set an example for your children. If you set limitations on your own screen usage, perhaps your children will not be as inclined to mirror your behavior.

Scheduled Screen Time

While screens are part of our daily lives and a large part of our culture, you can limit the time your child spends on the computer or watching TV.

Make a screen-time schedule and stick with it. If your rules aren’t enforced, then they aren’t rules to begin with.

Dedicate at least one evening a week to a family game night, reading time, or other non-screen activities.

Sometimes the spoken word can tell stories even better than the TV.

While this is sometimes a difficult sell if your children are accustomed to a lot of screen time, there are some tricks you can employ to promote books and story/reading night.

First, read. Find a book you like and read it. Your children will naturally be curious if it’s something you enjoy.

Set a time limit and let your children pick their own books. Everyone enjoys reading if it’s something they find interesting.

Don’t let your kids keep time with digital clocks, either; instead, use analog clocks so they have no reason to pick up a phone or mobile device to become distracted.

Lastly, talk with your children about what they’ve read.

Not only does this provide a positive interaction between you and your children, but it also helps them reason and comprehend the material.

Outdoor Days

Children learn so much about life when they interact with the world around them.

That’s why it’s important they get outside at least once a day, and if you can offer an all-day outdoor excursion once a week, that’s even better.

Studies have found that outdoor play builds confidence in children, while also promoting creativity and imagination.

More centers of the brain are activated when children play outside than when they play video or computer games, and outdoor play promotes exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

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