Exam Time: Designing the ideal ‘Digital Detox’ plan for our children

Its 2016 and we all live in a digitally enhanced world. We all love spending our time exploring the endless corners of the internet. How much time have we spent checking out our gadgets as they beep and chime throughout, helping us share and show that we care for our family, and friends online. But what happens when it’s time for examinations? Do we see that our kids are able to concentrate on studies? Many kids seem to be addicted to their devices, apps and social media accounts which in turn could also affect their overall performance during this time. Let’s face it, prolonged exposure to internet connected devices and apps can create a lot of disturbance for our kids. As a concerned parent, I can almost hear you ask questions like these:

  • Should we ban the use of devices during exams?
  • Should we pack up all phones, iPods, tabs, PSPs, Wii and lock them up in our cupboard for the month?
  • Should we set heavy penalties for playing online games or chatting online or texting during these days?
  • Perhaps we want to allow music as that helps our child to practice Maths well?
  • Or should we set an hour daily for all device-related work and that’s it? OR should we just shrug it off and let kids be?

Phew, that’s a lot of tough questions, to answer: almost like another exam!

In fact, this situation might seem like a difficult one to tackle, if you have strong-headed teens who are highly sensitive and vocal about their rights and privacy and are practically joined at the hips to their devices.

Well, fear not! The solution is to try Digital Detox which simply means plugging out or logging off or even switching off all your gadgets for a certain amount of time.

Our first instinct usually is to be firm and prohibit everything that may affect concentration and academic performance of our kids. After all, parents are rule setters and guides, whose duty is to ensure that kids don’t stray off the path. That said, 2016 is the year when we have decided to tackle all digital issues in a positively constructive manner which is by arriving at a consensus with our kids amicably. For we are not their enemies but their biggest well-wishers and we need to showcase this to them.

So how do we start?

  • First thing first, talk to your kids about their studies, ambitions and attention span. Educate them that motivation has to be intrinsic more than anything. Ask them how they plan to approach their exam preparations- including drawing up a time table, revising, increasing study hours and limiting the use of gadgets. Let them tell you their strategies and list out the things that they need to restrict or cut out on as they prove distracting. Understand the approach they are most comfortable with.
  • Then turn the discussion towards leisure time activities by sharing your concerns and views. Do explain how a disciplined approach is key to success. Encourage kids to contemplate on the activities that divert their attention from their studies.
  • Set exam time device and internet rules through delicate but firm handling, especially if your child is addicted to gadgets. Draw up new usage rules during revision and exam period. If they need to confer with friends on last-minute doubts (and they do have a lot of them), then fix hours for doing so. Encourage them to go out for brisk walks or runs instead of playing online games, chatting or watching TV during study breaks.
  • Activate parental controls on all devices. This magical feature is offered by all reputed online security solutions, allowing you to fix Internet access hours, block sites of your choice and send you information if rules are breached. It isn’t possible for you to keep 24/7 watch on your child, so this remote monitoring feature helps to keep children within boundaries. Do let kids know when and under what circumstances you will allow them access the net.
  • Encourage a digital hiatus. Remember how our parents never watched their favorite TV serials when we had our exams? You too can make device-free hours a family activity. Lead the way, through your actions showing you care more for them and less for devices. They are bound to pick up the cue.
  • And once the exams are over, let them reap the rewards. Reunite them with their favorite devices and apps, and allow them extra hours on the net. They will be thankful and it will build up trust like nothing will.

Most importantly, do remember that:

Our kids are going to need a lot of motivation. Educate them that when we enforce the digital detox plan, they’re going to feel like they suddenly have a lot of time on their hands. And that’s good! To have a healthy mind and body, they need a balanced life. Unplugging just lets them find time for themselves.

In fact, before anything the golden rule stands, as a parent, you are your child’s role model in all areas. So your kids may think ‘If it’s OK for Mommy, it’s OK for me.’ Hence if you intend to enforce a digital detox, one must lead by example!

To sum it up, the final decision is on parents and depends a lot on individual child’s level of maturity. For some, only a total ban will do while for others, limited device use may actually help them to break the monotony of studies. A child should remember that parents are the final authority who can offer them the privilege; and so, if they break rules or their grades suffer, then parents have every right to take the privilege away.

P.S.- Did you know that meditation helps a lot in calming the nerves before exams? Try it with your kids.

All the best to you and your beloved kids for the FINAL EXAMS. Relax, take a deep breath– nail it!