Children learn by watching adults go about their lives. It is all very well and good to tell a child to play outside - but when Mum or Dad are glued to a screen all day long, absent-mindedly swiping through an iPhone, or even outdoor averse (e.g.; bug phobic Mums), what message is being sent to the children through their parent’s actions?
We know that excess screen time is bad for the developing brains and bodies of children. Being concerned for younger generations is often easier, than being concerned about our own habits, especially when those habits are connected to how we work, live and play in the modern world.
Through thinking about the impact technology has on development, and biology, and the message that we send to the youth, in how we use technology, this desire to protect our youth, will help us forge better habits, and lead by a better example.
How many of us have seen children wandering around a park whilst Mum is ‘busy’ on the IPhone?
How many times have we seen a child wandering around with an iPad, fully absorbed, whilst Dad is also staring off into his phone or laptop?
It is a very, very common occurrence, but does that mean it is a good idea? Everyone is doing it, not because it is a good idea, or best for everybody involved, but because technology is addictive, and its designed to attract us, distract us, and make us spend more time on the device – which means less quality time spent with our growing children.
The number one money-making technology in the United States, that outperforms almost all other money-making schemes, is still slot machines. Slot machines have been engineered to be addictive. The noises, flashing, and intermittent rewards, stimulate the human brain into staying longer, betting more money, and becoming hopelessly and biologically attached to the whole process. These same principles have been wrought into the very design of the iPhone and other modern devices and applications.
Studies have shown that as notifications sound or vibrate or flash, stress hormones elevate, and our nervous system is triggered by the notifications. This is because we are being alerted to a “new piece of information”, that we knew not prior, until we look at our phone. Elevated stress is implicated in every major illness - but more simply, being constantly available to the dinging notifications of technology, reduces our attention span in the moment, reduces our attention and focus for our children, and draws us away from the moment, and elevates stress which leads to poor decision making and snappiness.
Simple habit changes that we can start doing as adults, will establish better habits in our young children. Children aged 0-7 especially, learn by the example left by the adults around them. Leading by example is the best way to establish healthier habits for our growing young ones. Here are some simple things we can do:
Put phones on silent mode only and check phones at appropriate intervals. i.e. When not with people, children, working, or simply because of boredom etc. When needing to check the phone, when with others, make it normal to say, ‘I will check my phone now, and be back with you’ This says to the person or child you are with, ‘I care about our interaction, but I must interact with technology now, because I cannot be two places at once” Because we all know how it feels to have a conversation with someone half stuck on their smart phone. Not good!
Not using phones around the dinner table. How many people have seen it happen where all family members are out at a restaurant, and they are all on their phones? We do not need a Doctor of Psychology to tell us that there is something wrong with this picture. Meals with family and friends, are meant to be shared and enjoyed consciously. Unplugging from devices around mealtime, is good manners.
Don’t take devices to bed or use them in the bedroom. Research shows that the low levels of radiation produced by devices can interfere with sleep, and causes genetic damage. Sleep quality is also significantly reduced with increased exposure to the blue light from screens around bedtime. ‘Winding down now’ is another classic quote, used by parents, that adults need to apply to themselves. Cutting screen time before bed, dimming the lights, reading a book, or doing some stretches, is a healthful switch. If it is impossible to reduce screen time in the evenings, then using screen filters, or blue blocker glasses, that limit blue light exposure can help to reduce the stress of watching flickering blue lights, late at night.
Putting timers on house modems, wireless transceivers and transmitters, will reduce the overall exposure in the home from radiation, especially over night, when the physiology of humans is most vulnerable – especially in that of young children.
When we make time to play with our children, we are not half on phones, or devices, and half with our children. Creating device free zones, and putting devices onto silent mode, shows the children we care, are not distracted, and we are not needy for our devices.
Choose entertainment and media that nourishes your body, heart and mind. Let’s be honest with our media choices. Is what we choose to watch nourishing us? Are we using technology to learn and stay curious or to distract and avoid? Can we find more of a balance between, leisure, fantasy, education and inspiration? Become your own programmer, and deeply assess what it is that you enjoy about life, and what it is that you WANT to enjoy about life. Choose the media that aligns with this joy and use technology to keep on growing.
Do not carry your phones in your pockets, unless they are on flight mode. Studies show reduced fertility and sperm mobility in men, when testes are exposed to ELF or EMF frequencies. Fertility is also on a record-breaking decline, for both genders. Taking the phones away from our genitals, show that we care about our future, and we do not accept unnecessary danger into our lives, or our pants. It shows the people, and children around us, that these technologies are not safe, and we are applying precaution. Smart phones all have a warning in the terms and conditions of purchase that states: that it is unsafe to have the device on the body at all! Some places in Europe require reading these terms and conditions before purchase. Australia does not require this, and most people assume the safety of the technology.
Do not talk with the phone against the head. Get a headset and use it. Studies are conclusive, that people who spend large amounts of time, talking on cell phones up against the brain, are at a much higher risk for brain tumours and abnormalities. Once again, it shows we care about our health.
As we develop better cultural and personal etiquette for how we use technology, this will rub off on the younger generations. One night when I arrived at a friend’s house, her young daughters were excited to see me. They were rushing around trying to keep themselves awake and were jumping around wildly. One of them rushed towards me with a cold blue screen, an iPad in a warm amber lit room, late at night. I cringed and said “ahh get that awful screen away from me”. I was dramatizing the whole thing – but the feelings were genuine. She asked what I meant, confused by my response. I said, “screens are bad for you at night, and ruin sleep! I don't like screens after dark”. She immediately put it down and walked away from it. I was able to show her, that I didn't respond well to the technology within the context, only because I have trained myself into that response, and developed the awareness and habit. Most modern people do not even recognise the discomfort associated with screen use or have accepted sore eyes as normal. After using only amber lighting, screen filters, and tinted glasses after sundown now for years, my serene bubble of nostalgic amber night time experiences, are easily disturbed by cold blue light rays – and the shock and horror of the intrusion, was clear on my face to the young girl. If I was unaware of the consequences, or was in the habit of using screens late at night, I may have, through similarity of habit, encouraged the use of the device in that moment, and mentored the young girl, in a direction, that is evidencing to have negative consequences on nearly all aspects of human development and function. As we improve our own habits, and our functioning with technology, we then transfer safer messages and practices, because we can only share, what we practice ourselves.
As a child, my fondest memories were exploring in forests, playing in creek beds, finding groves of mushrooms, digging in the dirt, and building houses in trees.The very first thing I began to collect and even purchase with my own money was crystals, metals and gemstones.
Nowadays, science-based research, exploration and studies of the Natural World, and becoming an expert in the field of learning, has given me the passion for wanting to instil and share those same passions with the younger generation.I am a strong believer in the way our connections and interactions with Nature as we grow and evolve, will shape our personality, interests, and passions in life.
Not only that, but stunning new findings, show how Nature positively impacts our biology, health of the brain, and health of connections to the World and people around us.Similarly, research shows a decline in children’s creativity, feeling of connectedness to the natural world and the ability to learn. That decline is directly correlated with the use of technology.Now, more than ever, I believe in the importance of sharing the gifts of Nature and the love of Nature with the World, especially children.
In the face of the increasing pervasiveness of technology, in and out of the home, for children and adults alike, we must remember our roots are in Nature.
We must care for what is most important. The Earth we live on, the Nature of our humanity, the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our children.
This is why Life Rocks was created - to share a systematic, interactive and playful way of engaging children in learning about and developing a curiosity for the beautiful, rich Natural World.
Not only that, but Life Rocks shares with teachers and parents alike, the ways in which we can grow and expand our own practices, in and out of the classroom that stimulate that learning and curiosity for our children – and ultimately ourselves. As who is usually the biggest inspiration to us – but the younger generations, and their growth!A series of camps for children, parent and child retreats and teachers' workshops, combine cutting-edge research on how connection to Nature impacts brain development, emotional development, and a sense of belonging, to provide us with solutions and answers on how to practice, demonstrate and make that connection to Nature available – in the classroom, home, and life environment.
My book condenses ideas on nature exposure and earth science learning, as it relates to childhood development and early learning. It is for teachers | parents and is an easy to read, practical guide, that can help shape the way things are done in and out the classroom. To stimulate the creation of solid foundations for our children’s connection to Nature to encourage it to flourish. All children deserve to have a lifelong, loving and deep connection to the Natural World around them.
The products and experiences that have been designed, are created to include age appropriate learning strategies, that support the Australian Early Learning Framework, and the curriculum for primary schools.
They are interactive, immersive and hands-on learning, and most importantly address the many areas of learning that children need, to become developmentally, well-rounded learners – somatic, audio and visual.