Digital Minimalism Among Children and Adolescents? - DAILY BLOGS
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Digital Minimalism Among Children and Adolescents?

What is Digital Minimalism? Why is it applicable today’s context? How do we minimize screen addiction in youngsters? How does minimizing screen time help in increasing one’s attention span and feed creativity and productivity? How do we imbibe the habit of deep concentration and focus among children?

If you have any curiosity regarding these issues, read on….

Presently our children end up spending a number of hours in front of the computer without many purposes,  whiling away their time and energy. It`s worrisome. There would be long term consequences to pay for this habit if left unchecked. In this world where everyone is fixated on pursuing self-gratification and self-fulfilment FOMO-Fear of Missing Out has to be replaced in one`s journey through moderation and self-restraint. Restricting time of online activities, making reading a daily routine, praising kids for pursuing hobbies could be few steps for raising mindful children.  Parents, teachers and kids themselves can continuously work on their productivity level and improvise on how much meaning they derive from their daily schedule. The rise of digital-induced mental issues among adolescents and children are good reasons for us to focus on this issue.

What`s Digital Minimalism?

Minimalism has to do with mindset and attitude. Coined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism is about living with intention. You make room-space and time- for the things you love and eliminate everything that distracts you from them. Digital Minimalism is to be intentional with our use of technology. We need to question whether a particular piece of technology- email, social media, internet browsing, the phone- is adding or removing value from your life.  Today both adults and adolescents are in the constant pull of social media through sensory inputs. As Cal says, Minimalists tend to spend much less money and own many fewer things than their peers. They also tend to be much more intentional and often quite radical in shaping their lives around things that matter to them.`

The few steps are taken to make children and adolescents more self-reliant and purposeful could be the following steps:

1. Help children and adolescents define their core values. Trying to understand what is important to youngsters is very important. By being their authentic self,  indulging in activities that give them genuine happiness or fulfilment, they can make informed and confident decisions. Core values like Wisdom, Service, Respect, Poise, Recognition, pleasure, peace, love, Justice, kindness, Humor, Friendships, Faith, creativity, compassion, Beauty,  etc have to be recognized. Then activities resonating with their core values could be cultivated.

2. In order to find Digital autonomy, spending time alone in solitude could promote mindfulness.  Watching nature and appreciating creation could be a source of natural happiness.

3. Avoiding clicking `Like` buttons can help in limiting the time to social media.

4. Giving positive reinforcement to children like verbal appreciation and treats if they spend time offline doing meaningful work could minimize their time on social media. Creative reward system in which you praise your child for paying good attention and completing a task. Once Rohan finishes his painting, his parents make it a point to save it in Digital form and also sharing it with their other family members and friends giving him the impetus to continue his pursuit.

5. Conversations must be part of their everyday life along with storytelling. These can be introduced to this generation for better group work and communication competencies. Asking kids who their good friends are and what are their strengths and limitations or what they think of current state of affairs may involve both parents and kids in a meaningful non-judgemental process of knowing each other. 

What is Deep Work?

Succumbing to attention traps lead kids off the path of productivity and to the road of mediocrity. In his 2016  bestselling book, Deep Work:  Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World,  Cal Newport refers to  deep work as :

"Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to
replicate.”

The few steps we could take to promote deep work for children are:

1.  Location-Choosing a space that`s distraction-free and conducive to a long period of focus. In Indian families this could be a challenge but still can be tried.

2. Working collaboratively with others fills one with enthusiasm and team spirit. Working with partners also stimulates creativity.

3. Committing to daily or weekly reviews of one`s progress confronts one with accurate feedback.

4. Mindfulness meditation asks practitioners to repeatedly bring attention back to one`s object of focus, activity, breath when the mind wanders. Playfully imbibing the habits of mindfulness will go a long way in making kids pay attention to the present moment. They can practice it while walking, running, cooking, taking a  shower.

5. Finding a replacement for Internet entertainment like playing musical instruments, cycling, reading a book, talking to friends and family would be ideal ways to digital detoxification.

6. While doing one`s work making oneself inaccessible by not responding to phone calls during the
activity can help in controlling distractions.

Thus it`s an amalgamation of how you work best,  removing distractions in your environment, planning and protecting your deep working time, navigating your behaviour so you don`t distract yourself and practicing good self-discipline to actualize your potential. 

A  30 - day mastery schedule could be made to digitally de-clutter oneself. The principles would be to create simple, consistent healthy habits while replacing patterns that are obsolete and harming to one`s overall well-being. In this age of Constant Connection, it takes work to focus on what truly matters to you.  Pruning distracting objects, limiting the ``noise`` of social media and steps to de-cluttering are
ways of the new world.  We, adults, have to imbibe it, for the next-gen to
follow.  

Coming up is a series of Steps to increase Attention Span among children.

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