Kids and Devices

Grand CanyonDear MotionWorks Family,

I hope you have been enjoying the fabulousness that is summer in Wisconsin. With back to school looming in the horizon, be sure to take these last several weeks and make the most of it!

Speaking of school, and kids, did you hear the new report that teens are more depressed and lonely than ever, even in the rise of instant and constant communication with their friends and family, teens have never felt more alone. Why is this? While our communication is instant, it is short, to the point, and not the same as an in person conversation. There are words, but no tone. Hence, communication without ambiance one way or the other. No way to express caring and concern when time is of the essence.

Then there is the problem of cyber bullying. Teens that once felt the safe haven of home no longer have a shelter from the cruel intentions of their peers. Instead, they face a 24 hour barrage of mean spirited posts and jeering, with no parental awareness compared to twenty years ago when you knew when your child was on the phone or received a letter, and you could ask who was on the other end of that communication.  Let’s face it, today kids are left more to their own devices, with parents with lives of their own, teens have more independence than ever, making parental guidance sparse without facetime and family time.

How can we reverse this trend? Start by limiting device time, no devices during dinner, and family time where devices are not allowed to interfere. Second, start out kids with devices with minimal options, call home or call 911 options are more than even for tweens and young teens. Also make your teens aware that their communication will be monitored routinely and follow through on the promise. Keep phones and laptop use in the living room or kitchen, not in the bedrooms to better monitor use. Finally, make time for family time and one-on-one conversations, real heart-to-heart talks, starting when kids are still in elementary school. Patiently listen to your kids to build trust and rapport, so that when the tween and teen years come, they know they can safely trust in you and your words of wisdom and advice. Encourage your kids and teens, and make time so they know they are important and how they are doing is in the forefront of your mind. Hug your kids, complement your kids, and help them find the skill or hobby in which they are a natural. Give them opportunities to shine, so our next generation can thrive despite the pitfalls of the tech generation they cannot escape.

So, here at the end of summertime, go ahead and go to the pool - work can wait. Have a cannonball contest, or rate jumps off the diving board. Go hiking, camping, biking in places where even if access to technology exists, your teens are instead captured by a caring adult investing time in them and having fun while they’re doing it! After all, there’s nothing like the start of another school year to remind us that soon these days and opportunities will be gone.

Yours Truly,
Dr. Jill Murphy
Owner/Physical Therapist
MotionWorks Physical Therapy