I'll admit it, I’m completely addicted to my technology. You, too? Of course. We all are. So let’s not pretend that we don’t check our phones multiple times an hour, or that our fingers don’t get itchy when we’ve been away from them for the duration of, say, a full-length movie or a dinner date.
As I check my email for the hundredth time in a day, I sometimes wonder where my brain has gone.
Then there’s the bigger, more frightening issue of our children’s brains. Sure, we occasionally want to enjoy an uninterrupted meal with our friends, so we might hand our kids—as young as toddlers—an iPad in a restaurant. At home, they get videos to keep them entertained while we toil away in front of our own technology or steal a little time with our spouse. And we justify this by deciding that whatever game our little ones are playing is educational (how can puzzles NOT be good for them?)—but we kind of know better.
OK, we do know better.
Although there are inarguably wonderful things about the Internet, it’s not easy to lighten the bleak scenario around its influence on our children’s ability to sustain long-term focus. In other words, the more our kids click around from site to site, and the younger they are when they start doing it, the sooner the habit becomes addiction and the negative effects set in.
According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, children between the ages of 2 and 5 average 2.2 hours of screen media per day. For preschoolers, it’s more like four hours.
Or, in almost anyone’s estimation, too many.
But the internet is here to stay and our kids are online—and on their way to addiction—so now what?
Well, before it’s too late, it’s time to make one small change to your family’s lifestyle that will absolutely impact your children’s intelligence and ability to succeed in school. If deep knowledge comes from deep reading, then it’s time for your kids to put down the games and do more reading.
Read every single day, without the ping and buzz of a cell phone by your side, until it becomes a habit.
I’m not talking about reading online, where people are more likely to peruse a webpage for information gathering but not following the left to right linear style that requires patience and concentration.
I’m talking about actually reading a book. No phone involved.
To improve your kid’s brainpower as well as your own, set aside a period of time every day in which absolutely everyone in the family shuts off all technology and sits down with a book instead.
Phones? Off. Computers? Off. TV? Off. If you’re using a Kindle, make sure you’re offline and reading something substantial.
Warren Buffet revealed the secret to his success was reading 500 pages a day. While that’s a stretch for even the most devoted person, with no job and all the time in the world, the idea is something to aspire to. Read every single day, without the ping and buzz of a cell phone by your side, until it becomes a habit. Soon enough, you and your kids will welcome that time away from technology and start to see the rewards that come from getting lost in a good book.
If your children are too young to read on their own, then enjoy the tech-free zone and read to them.
Steve Siebold interviews over one thousand of the world’s wealthiest people for his book “How Rich People Think.” One habit they all shared: reading.
But this isn’t about getting rich, it’s really about helping your children stay focused and engaged while acquiring deep wisdom and knowledge. It’s about helping them developing a love for reading, the surest path to becoming smart. Plus, there are many ways to be rich and this plan will contribute to all of them. Just think about it.
Not only does reading give you a rich vocabulary and understanding of the world, turning off technology makes you a socially richer person, more comfortable and adept at face-to-face communication—all skills one needs to succeed in this world.
Finally, studies show that people who practice mentally engaging activities like reading suffer less memory loss. So, a healthier, richer life with your family is just another perk.
Above all, think of your child's brain. Wouldn’t you do just about anything to make that work really well?