Probably the most important skill your child can learn to succeed in the 21st century is to be in-distractible. That’s a tall order in today’s digital age when technology seduces many of us into diverting from what we should be doing.

According to a Stanford University psychologist, there are two kinds of people in the world; “Those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves in-distractible. Most kids use technology between 5-10 hours a day. At school, if in middle to high school, kids are probably using computers at least 3 to 4 hours a day and then for many, there is all those hours to play with technology after school. The hours on some type of screen just seem to fly by and time becomes irrelevant for many. Let’s face it, kids love video games and if left alone, they would have no problem at all spending an entire day gaming with a program like Minecraft. Therefore, when many parents ask their kids to get off their phones, X-Box or computers because they’ve been using them for an inordinate amount of time, there are many disputes. Even Bill Gates limits his children’s screen time.

According to the experts at Stanford, “One of the biggest mistakes parents make is not empowering their child with the autonomy to control their own time.” If that is the case, allowing a child to do so is certainly a tremendous gift and a huge step toward establishing trust. This type of allowing is a subtle form of behavior modification. You are asking the child to be responsible and honorable when perhaps beforehand the child was irresponsible and dis-engaged from the rest of the family due to the persistent lure of technology.

Consider asking your child how much screen time per day he/she thought was a fair amount even if you are taking a risk by giving the child the autonomy to make the decision. Parents may be surprised by answers because when a child is armed with the logic behind why limiting screen time is important, the child may make the right decision. You could suggest the following negative results of too much screen time to give a soft nudge to helping make a decision. Assuredly, your child will identify with some of them. Alerting children to the pitfalls is very important. They may include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia
  • Slower development in social and life skills. Kids can miss out on learning how to deal with important social issues.
  • Decrease in physical health and therefore the inability to maintain good grades
  • Weight gain due to lack of proper exercise
  • Less exposure to the benefits of spending time outside
  • Problems with self-confidence
  • Anxiety issues

When parents impose limits without their child’s input, they are setting themselves up for resentment and are giving their child incentive to cheat the system.

Even if a child fails to maintain the standards you have set and discussed regarding the proper use of technology, failure is a part of the learning process. It is suggested that putting kids in charge is definitely a good thing because they learn to practice monitoring their own behavior and they learn how to manage time which will be crucial in their adult life.

Tags: In-distractible, Behavior Modification, Children and Technology