Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Web Secret 584: Raising Phone-Free Children
Everyone on the planet who is connected to the Internet is struggling to manage their screen time and/or the screen time of their children.
1. EAPs have the opportunity to develop lunch and learn presentations that teach employees how to limit their off duty screen time.
2. Individual counselors can also develop this expertise to help their clients of all ages.
Lo and behold I came across an article "Now Some Families Are Hiring Coaches to Help Them Raise Phone-Free Children."
Here are the key points from that article:
Parents around the country, alarmed by the steady patter of studies around screen time, are trying to turn back time to the era before smartphones. But it’s not easy to remember what exactly things were like before smartphones. So they’re hiring professionals.
A new screen-free parenting coach economy has sprung up to serve the demand. Screen consultants come into homes, schools, churches and synagogues to remind parents how people parented before.
Among affluent parents, fear of phones is rampant, and it’s easy to see why. No one knows what screens will make of society, good or bad. This worldwide experiment of giving everyone an exciting piece of hand-held technology is still new.
Gloria DeGaetano was a private coach working to wean families off screens when she noticed the demand was higher than she could handle on her own. She launched the Parent Coaching Institute, a network of 500 coaches and a training program. Her coaches in small cities and rural areas charge $80 an hour. In larger cities, rates range from $125 to $250. Parents typically sign up for eight to 12 sessions. (!!!)
A parent coach noticed most adults have gotten so used to entertaining themselves with phones, they forgot that they actually grew up without them. Clients were coming to her confused about what to do all afternoon with their kids to replace tablets. She has her clients do a remembering exercise.
“And it’s so hard, and they’re very uncomfortable, but they just need to remember.”
A movement is bubbling up across the country. A group of parents band together and make public promises to withhold smartphones from their children until eighth grade. Parents who make these pledges work to promote the idea of healthy adult phone use, and promise complete abstinence until eighth grade or even later. (I am not a fan of that one size fits all approach - phones also provide security and other beneficial services.)
One psychologist noted:“We want answers served up to us — ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’”
But what seems self-evident can be hard to remember, and hard to stick with. One parent noted, “When we were growing up, we didn’t have these [devices], so our parents couldn’t role model appropriate behaviors to us, and we have to learn what is appropriate so we can role model that for them.”
We are inventing the wheel for a new machine that is constantly being upgraded. No wonder these parents are so anxious.
But for EAPs and clinicians - helping people develop a measured approach to new technology - can be part of your book of business.