Children Are Boring… Why Modern Connected Teenagers Need To Suffer
After a long day at school we all loaded into the bus.
Four children and two leaders, headed on an adventure.
Today was a botanical garden, not far from where everyone lived…
But these children had no idea it even existed.
After the initial excitement of the drive wore off, the questions began.
Where are we going?
What are we doing?
Why are we driving this way?
There’s nothing out here!
This is going to be soooo boring!!!
On and on.
No points for guessing what happened when we got there… Everyone bolted off in different directions shrieking and screaming, having a blast.
We saw snakes, found snapping turtles, played some games, ate some crickets… We had all the fun, and these children would have missed out if they had their way!
This was a varied group of children, but they all wanted to sit on their screens when we got in the bus. Suddenly the world was opening up to them, they found adventure without games!
But how do we do this for our own children?
This is the issue with too much screen time: Everything is virtual, everything is controlled, and everything is indoors. We’ve been in a new house for an entire month. There are houses all around us, but hardly anyone is outside. Ever. There is the occasional noise, but a trampoline over one of the fences hasn’t been used at all… matter of fact, I haven’t even heard children from that house one single time.
By having all of the fun in the house everything is controlled: The weather, the lighting, the food, nothing needs to be thought through. It’s all entertainment, there’s no struggle, no risk, no true accomplishment. No adversity, no hard times, no setting up shelter, no team work, no discomfort. It’s all fake time.
Too many hours on these devices is robbing our children of their independence, and actual life skills! Too many twenty-somthings are ordering take out every night, logging hours and hours on their machines…
We are enabling this. And it has to stop!
– Withstand Tough Situations
We are setting these children up. Throwing them out into the world with no ability to handle the tough situations coming their way!
Everyone has been through some adversity, so it makes sense to keep our children safe. This is healthy. The problems come when we continue to devour them, squandering their potential with over protection, rather than letting go as they grow.
Children become independent sooner or later, so sending them out more and more as they grow makes sense. Any problems that arise just show us the areas we need to help them more. Skills and character take time to learn, by setting up our children for success we can relax and let them make mistakes in relative safety.
Here is a more in-depth break down of this parenting strategy! LINK!!!!!!!!
– Recover Quickly
Strategies like this also promote quick emotional recovery in our children.
Over time they are exposed to more and more pressure and choice, which also means more consequences. Exposing our children to these more difficult situations slowly over time allows them time to learn and grow.
Difficult situations are like the fires that strengthen a sword.
Each blow teaches us,
Each time we get back up strengthens us,
Each lesson sticks with us longer and means more to us,
It changes us.
We need the adversity.
Watching the clip above I realise more and more how similar parenting is to the sword making process. As our children are exposed to the heats and pressures of life, they are getting stronger, sharper. Allowing that process to happen, rather than over protecting, is what is going to alleviate a lot of the pressures of parenting for us! Our children will learn more by doing and failing than thinking up ideas and likely forgetting them.
If a blade is heated to the high temperature and cooled too quick cool, it will be strong but brittle.
If it is heated carefully, slowly to release the brittleness while retaining hardness, the sword produced will be tough springy yet able to retain it’s razor edge.
It is the same with our parenting…
Choices are what it all comes down to, and letting go of the choices can be tricky.
For over a decade we have protected out children, nurtured them, helped them, guided them… now it’s their time to go and explore what intrigues them.
What happens when they mess up?
Will they get hurt?
Can they handle it?
How can I let them make silly decisions?
At some point we just need to trust the work we’ve done. We need to let go.
Our daughter needed exactly this!
When boundaries were established, and negative influencers were controlled, we began making her make more decisions for herself. She had been struggling with body image and anxiety issues, but not much was helping. I started researching it whenever something would happen, and over time gave her some different tools and systems to help her.
The first, and one of the biggest helps, was simply looking at people in the shopping centres. Before this she would look at her shoes, thinking everyone was looking at her and thinking about her. By actually looking at people she realised that most weren’t, and looking people in the eyes grew her confidence.
Allowing her to simmer in that difficult situation, and throwing her options while in the fire, changed this girls life in a few weeks! Now, months later, she is talking to a ton of people in a new school and invited to birthday parties in the first few weeks of school. A complete 180°!
– The Great Outdoors
I’ve told a story before about a group of teens flipping on fun in the sun. Getting outdoors is great, it gets us active, in nature, experiencing new things and out in the sunlight (but more on that later).
Options are limitless when it comes to getting out in the sun!
Bush walks, Swimming, The beach, bike rides, walking the neighbourhood, having an afternoon picnic, watching a game, getting out on the water, so many. But let’s talk about the benefits!
Moving out in the sunlight improves our health, there’s no doubt there, but it also does wonders for our emotional health! Better mood, relieves stress, greater self esteem, better sleep, reduced inflammation and MORE HAPPINESS!
Exposure to sunlight releases a chemical called serotonin in your brain, improving your mood.
Serotonin also improves our focus and increases overall calmness. Along with improved focus, serotonin helps us to think clearer, and helps control when we wake and sleep.
Another way sunlight helps is by producing melatonin. This chemical is released two hours before we sleep, making our sleep quality better. This release is timed with our sun exposure, which makes it vitally important to get into the sun when we rise in the mornings.
Vitamin D is also involved in this process, and helps us have healthy strong bones. Guess what the sun does? That’s right, it provides our bodies with vitamin D!
Sunlight even reduces cholesterol, converting high cholesterol in the blood into hormones!
Get your family out in the sun, they will all be sharper and stronger!
Dulling our children down seems to be an international hobby at this point. We have big tech companies trying to keep people on their apps longer, tv stations pumping out mind numbing programming, food that has become a commodity that’s oil or sugar laced, and children who’s brains are beginning to connect.
Dopamine is responsible for our motivations.
We used to think of it as the “feel good chemical”
More recently we are understanding dopamine as the MOTIVATION chemical.
When we’re allowing too much access to screens, and poor diets, we are creating little dopamine monsters.
– Modern Teens are Dopamine Monsters.
With our diets having sugar hidden in almost every product, and most that aren’t being cooked in fatty oils. Both of these increase our dopamine. In fact, cigarettes increase our dopamine 1.5 times, chocolate increases dopamine 2 times… This must be why eating that garbage on a bad day feels sooo good!
By allowing our children’s diets to be filled with these types of foods we are changing their gut bacteria, causing them to crave these foods more and more. We are also making the screen time fight more difficult…
Risky behaviours, junk food, and screen time are all keeping our children addicted and in the house!
As I hinted before, big tech companies set out to manipulate us. These companies were working with the technology to keep people hooked more, for longer. They engineered the experience to hijack our natural systems, such as our reward and motivation systems, keep us hooked like gambling addicts. All of the colours, sounds, words, animations… it was all to keep us looking for longer, seeing more ads, making them more money. Even worse, because it’s about money popularity wins over truth usually.
Enter children, and nanny ipad… Now we have children burnt out and craving riskier and riskier activities to get their dopamine hit…
These risky behaviours used to be where earlier generations dopamine kicks came from. Jumping from trees, doing sports, riding bikes and skateboards, things that came with some risk to the reward. It wasn’t just on screens playing the nintendo, it was go do things and play that at night or when it’s raining. We used our dopamine to go and get after the fun, we had to make the fun!
The reason I feel there is such a drug problem in the early 20 year olds now is because of this. They have down regulated dopamine receptors, because they have maxed out their dopamine and reward systems for most of their adolescence. Now, with less capacity to feel the dopamine, they are almost forced to take these drugs to feel happy (or worse yet, just normal)!
Freedom, Break the lies.
… So what do we do?!
Everywhere seems to be normalising this type of life style.
Lots of companies are cashing in on the phenomena.
Most people I know are frustrated and stuck addicted to the time on these devices…
Hell, I’m using them right now and feeling my back hunch more and more…
We break the lies.
We talk with our children about all of this in a way they can handle and understand.
We set limits.
We teach them how to use the internet, rather than being used by the internet!
When we were getting frustrated with the screen time we did two things.
Limits, and infotainment. Looking back I wish we went infotainment first, limits second.
Our daughter is quite inquisitive, she just loves to learn. So when I was limiting the netflix and youtube access we bought a service called Curiosity Stream. The content is all educational, and when we got it there was a great variety of content, from murder investigations and colour training to dinosaurs and animal series!
One afternoon she taught us about sharks,
The next cats,
Then she wrote an article about a murder case (that one had adult supervision, mostly for any questions).
She learnt a ton, and had a new way top discover information.
We don’t need to buy new services just for this,
Why not find some great youtube channels full of family friendly content?
Non fiction books,
Literal university lectures…
There are endless things we can find online these days, instead of watching the next series why not learn something that you can apply to your life?
By setting our children up to relax watching things like this we will see insane growth quickly.
How do you trick your children into extra education?
Let us know in the comments below!