I read an article in The Telegraph yesterday that made The Walking Dead look like a documentary.
British parents are paying tens of thousands of dollars for their pre-schoolers to attend a 28-day digital detox program. Yes, that’s right. These toddlers have a technology habit so bad that they throw crazy tantrums and shred their nappies when their iPads and smartphones are removed. And what’s more, some of these tots get to play with these things for four hours straight. Everyday.
It looks like our kids are half-way to Zombie Land already. And it’s our fault.
Letting your young child loose on one of these gadgets for hours on end is insane. And expensive, especially if you have to put them in therapy for a month.
This digital detox creator is Dr Richard Graham from the Capio Nightingale clinic in London. He says technology withdrawal symptoms in young children are just as powerful and disturbing as the symptoms of alcohol and heroin withdrawal in adults.
This can’t be good for kids. And it can’t be good for parents, teachers and the World-At-Large.
So if you’re a parent, here are five ways to save yourself a fortune, spare your child from early addiction and give the world a break from the human freak-fest:
- Don’t let your offspring anywhere near a smartphone, iPod, iPad or iAnything until they are at least 8 years old. Never. If you weaken, remember this: these things are as addictive as heroin and alcohol.
- Send them to a Steiner (Waldorf) or Montessori school. Steiner and Montessori are the sanest ways to educate your child in a mad world. Super bonus: Waldorf schools keep computers out of the classroom altogether in the primary years and Montessori isn’t crazy about them either. (No, your child will not be in danger of computer illiteracy. All three of my children went to Steiner schools. Their computer ability makes Mr Spock look like a Starfleet Academy dropout,)
- Read them stories. Lots of stories. Especially at bedtime. This means you must drop your electronic gizmo, pick up a book and move your lips. It also helps if you make sounds with your vocal chords.
- Get a dog. Put your small human in charge of teaching it easy tricks. Dogs are much smarter than an iPad and they will love your child. Unconditionally. They also get them out in the fresh air, reduce their stress and fire up their immune system.
- Teach your child to cook. Even a three year old can manage biscuits. Then let him or her fool around in the kitchen as much as you can stand. Cleaning up their kitchen mess is cheaper (and less oppressive) than fixing their brain mess after years of iPad infatuation.
If all else fails, flick the safety switch and tell them there’s been a blackout.
Then get out the candles, call in the dog and play scrabble by the light of the moon.