The Most Important Skill Parents Need to Teach Their Kids - But most are failing.
In today's digital age, the ability to focus and avoid distractions has become an increasingly valuable skill. As technology continues to dominate our daily lives, it's essential that kids learn how to use it in a way that benefits them, rather than hinders their growth. However, many parents struggle with teaching this crucial skill to their children. In this article, we will explore how parents can help their kids become "indistractable" and provide valuable advice on how to teach the most important skill of the 21st century.
Why is this skill so important?
Because in the future (and right now), there will be two kinds of people in the world: Those who passively allow their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves “indistractable.” Digital distraction seems to be inescapable. As more and more research surfaces, it's clear that "Big Tech" has a vested interest in keeping our eyes glued to our devices, incorporating psychologically addictive elements. Simply put; the cards are stacked against our kids and many parents are losing the battle. So, what can we do to help our children become less distracted or “indistractable”?
Start Young and Teach Them About Media Literacy
"Understanding that companies are motivated to keep kids spending time watching or playing is an important part of teaching media literacy," says Nir Eyal, a researcher and author in the field of technology and behaviour. Starting young and teaching kids about media literacy is key to ensuring they use technology in a healthy and productive way. This involves educating them on the persuasive design tactics used by tech companies to keep them hooked and teaching them how to make informed decisions about their digital habits.
Set Clear Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries is another essential aspect of teaching kids to be indistractable. This means setting limits on screen time, enforcing device-free zones, and teaching them the importance of taking breaks from technology. These boundaries should be established early on and consistently reinforced to help kids develop the habits they need to stay focused and avoid distractions.
Give Them Autonomy
"It's only when kids can monitor their own behaviour that they learn the skills they need to be indistractable—even when their parents aren't around," says Nir Eyal. Giving kids the autonomy to manage their own digital habits is crucial to their development. This means encouraging them to take responsibility for their own behaviour, teaching them how to make informed decisions about their technology use, and allowing them to practice these skills in a safe and supportive environment. Teaching kids to be indistractable is one of the most important skills parents can impart. By starting young, setting clear boundaries, and giving kids autonomy, parents can equip their children with the tools they need to thrive in today's digital world. Remember, the skills they learn now will serve them well into adulthood and beyond. With a little effort and patience, parents can help their kids become the next generation of successful, focused, and digitally-balanced individuals.
How the cards are stacked against out kids
Some of the psychologically addictive elements that social media and gaming companies build into their products include: 1. Variable rewards: The use of unpredictable rewards, such as likes, followers, or in-game bonuses, creates a sense of anticipation and excitement that keeps users engaged. 2. Intermittent reinforcement: Providing rewards at irregular intervals, such as random power-ups in a game or occasional notifications, keeps users hooked and constantly checking their devices. 3. Endlessly scrolling feeds: Social media platforms are designed to keep users scrolling through endless feeds of content, providing a never-ending source of stimulation. 4. Push notifications: The use of push notifications to alert users of new messages or activity creates a sense of urgency and drives users to keep checking their devices. 5. Social comparison: Social media platforms often encourage users to compare themselves to others, creating a constant cycle of comparison and self-doubt that can be hard to break. 6. The fear of missing out (FOMO): Social media platforms often make users feel like they're missing out on important events or experiences if they're not constantly checking their devices. 7. The gamification of tasks: Gaming companies incorporate elements of game design, such as points, levels, and leaderboards, into non-gaming activities, making them more engaging and addictive. These elements are carefully and continuously crafted and tested by companies to create products that are highly addictive and keep users engaged for extended periods of time. Understanding these elements is an important part of media literacy and can help individuals make informed decisions about their device usage.
What makes these elements so addictive? What's really going on in our brains?
Simply put, these elements are addictive because they tap into our natural tendencies to seek pleasure, social validation, and avoidance of boredom. When we experience something positive, such as a like on a social media post, it activates the release of dopamine in our brain, which is associated with pleasure and reward. Similarly, social media and gaming often create a fear of missing out, which activates our desire to check our devices frequently. The use of variable reinforcement schedules, where rewards are doled out randomly, also keeps us engaged because we are never sure when the next pleasurable experience will occur. Additionally, the constant barrage of notifications, sounds, and visuals keeps our brain in a state of heightened arousal, making it difficult for us to pull away from our devices. The end result is a cycle of repeated behaviour that is difficult to break, as our brains are wired to seek out these pleasurable experiences.
The Wrap up
Teaching kids to be indistractable, or digitally in control, is one of the most important skills for them to have in the 21st century. With the increasing amount of time spent on devices at home and in the classroom, it's crucial for parents to start early and equip their kids with the tools to manage their own device usage. By teaching kids media literacy, setting clear boundaries, and giving them autonomy, parents can help their kids develop the skills they need to be in control of their own device usage. Help your children understand that the tactics employed by social media and gaming companies are motivated to keep kids spending as much time on their devices as possible. This is why they employ psychological tricks, such as instant gratification and social comparison, to keep users hooked. Understanding these motivations and techniques is an essential part of teaching kids media literacy and helping them become 'digitally well-adjusted' individuals. In short, helping kids become indistractable is not only important for their personal development, but also for their future success and mental well-being. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, parents can help their kids develop the skills they need to navigate the digital world and be in control of their own device usage. With the right guidance and support, we can empower the next generation to be indistractable and thrive in the digital age.
At Skill Samurai, we believe in helping kids develop healthy digital habits.
Learning to code is a great way to help kids with screen/digital addiction. 1. Re-purposing screen time: By learning to code, kids can channel their screen time towards a productive and educational activity. 2. Understanding technology: Through coding, kids can gain a deeper understanding of how technology works, which can reduce the mystique surrounding screens and decrease their allure. 3. Building problem-solving skills: Coding requires kids to think logically, solve problems, and work through complex issues, which can help them develop critical thinking skills and reduce the urge to escape into screens for entertainment. 4. Encouraging creativity: Coding can also be a creative outlet for kids, allowing them to build and design projects that express their ideas and imagination. Book a free trial class and help your child become 'indistractable', while equipping them with the skills needed for tomorrow's workforce.
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