Most adults have a vague memory of a time when “checking for messages” meant listening to an answering machine. We carried on with our days without relying on cell phones and managed just fine. But today, we are more connected than ever through our smartphones and other devices.
Our phones are so much more now—from cameras to calendars to social media connections—and truly disconnecting from them can be tough.
But it’s even harder for our kids to unplug because they only know life with these tiny screens. It’s difficult for them to imagine life without computers, gaming devices, tablets, or cell phones. But there’s great value in unplugging for children and adults, even if it’s for just a short period of time. For kids, time away from the screen to be outside with other children allows them to connect with nature and others in a way that a virtual experience does not allow. They can experience life in the moment and allow their creativity and energy to break free.
Fortunately, there are great community programs and organizations like 4-H, your local library, sports leagues, etc., that provide children with a safe place to play, learn, and grow, while cultivating new skills and interests.
These types of clubs and programs offer kids an opportunity to explore activities and interests outside of school academics. Children can investigate areas they might not otherwise have access to and discover new interests and passions. They often learn new skills and strengthen existing ones.
Community programs also foster important leadership development and public speaking skills. Through guided and informal play and activities, children learn problem-solving and interpersonal skills that enable them to resolve conflicts peacefully and improve interpersonal relationships.
Adults can also find meaningful opportunities to spend time with the kids when we all unplug. From board games to craft projects to playing in the park, there are many ways we can unplug for some family fun.
Let’s encourage our youth to step away from the screens to play and be part of an organization that helps them connect with others and find meaningful interactions and explore new activities and interests.