“Mindful” and “technology” are two words that seem like complete opposites. It’s rare that you ever see them in the same sentence.
On one end of the spectrum, we have mindfulness. The concept is rooted in Buddhism and has becoming trending in Western culture as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle. Mindfulness is the practicing of focusing your full attention on the present moment, letting go of thoughts of the past and of the future. It allows for us to experience this moment with all our senses and without judgement.
Believe it or not, technology can help with mindful parenting.
The technology available to us is often seem as “mindless,” just the opposite of what we’re talking about. This mindless entertainment comes in the form of smartphones, video games, and YouTube, just to name a few. Technology feels like a constant barrage of information that distracts us from being in touch with our true thoughts, feelings, and desires.
As parents, we’re often told that mindfulness is key to “good” parenting while technology is the enemy and should be taken only in small doses. The reality is that technology will continue to evolve, and we have no choice but to find a middle ground. Here are our five favorite ways to use technology mindfully to when raising your children.
1. Download mindful apps
Mindful parents must take their own care and well-being into account, as well as that of their children. There are hundreds of apps for people of all ages and backgrounds that promote the practice of mindfulness through meditation. Some take as little as a few minutes a day to help you relax and take a break from a busy day. Some of the apps that we love are Headspace, OMG I Can Meditate, and Breathe2Relax to help you unwind from a busy day.
Explore your options and download one or two that you think will benefit you and your children. It can be a fun family activity to practice mindfulness and meditation together.
Explore the many options available and select one or two that will benefit you and your children. Use the apps to practice mindfulness and de-stressing together.
2. Use technology for shared family experiences
Even experienced parents have questions about how much their children should be using technology, and the best way to monitor their usage. One of the best ways to know how much your kids are using technology is to have all of the entertainment (video games, tv) in your home’s common rooms rather than in their own bedrooms.
Make it a point to follow these same principles. Not only can you more easily see what your kids are doing and what type of content they are engaging with, it allows for family opportunities to watch funny videos together, talk to long-distance family members, or even play multiplayer games together.
3. Teach your kids about self-care.
With so much information available to us, we can learn a lot about ourselves through technology. There are apps that let us track everything from our sleep, to our food, to our exercise levels. There are even apps that can tell us how stressed we are at any given moment.
Food diaries and online journals are great ways to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other apps like Paintone encourage creative expression for both kids and adults. Make use of these apps and introduce them to your kids as a way to teach them about self-care and well-being.
4. Understand their social media habits.
It’s hard to accept, but a decent amount of socializing done by children these days is not done face-to-face, but through apps, video games, and texting. Although we may see it as being antisocial, it’s not. It’s the new normal, and any attempts to tell them otherwise will go ignored.
As they say, if you can’t win, join ’em. Spend time with your kids learning about the different social media channels that they use. It gives you a chance to understand how they’re communicating and teach them about safe online behavior. Help your kids find online communities in their interests to stimulate their passion and creativity. They can even learn about and meet people from different parts of the world. Let them explore!
5. Track the total technology use of your family.
They even have apps that track how much time you’re using apps, such as Moment. They even have the technology to tell you how many times you pick up your phone to check it through apps like Checky.
Tools like these are a great way to track your own usage and the usage of your family. Knowing how much time is spent on technology will give you a good perspective to share with your kids. It can also help you schedule a much needed “day off” from technology. You’ll be surprised at what you and your family can learn about each other when there’s no technology around at all!