Most kids have to balance homework, school, community events and playtime. Their schedules are quite packed and it’s considered normal. But what if it’s not?
Teens nowadays show signs of anxiety and panic when something happens to their smartphone or laptop. It’s their life – videos, social media, gaming, messages and everything else the internet has to offer.
On top of that, children are forced to be successful academically and socially, have additional activities and participate in different sports. It starts early in the morning when they are getting ready to school and ends in the evening when they flop into bed, not being able to sleep for a couple of hours.
Downtime Without Screens
When parents hear their children need downtime, they said playing video games several hours a day is enough. The truth is, screen-related activities require a lot of attention. These activities aren’t calming, and staring at the screen close to bedtime is one of the reasons children can’t fall asleep.
Our brain needs relaxed time to process all the information it receives during the day. Without downtime, the brain gets overwhelmed and can’t analyze new skills and knowledge in order to make use of them later. Downtime is necessary for our brain to consolidate memories, revive focus and attention and reenergize.
The True Downtime
The real downtime doesn’t involve smartphones and internet. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, a child needs this time to play outside, be creative, take a relaxing bath or daydream. Many parents think that it is a huge waste of time, especially on school days. They say that video games require problem-solving, while downtimes don’t do anything to their brain and don’t help them grow. However, that’s far from the truth.
The brain isn’t the only thing that can benefit from a relaxed downtime. Children need time to analyze their feelings and manage their emotions. When children say they are bored, most parents try to find activities for them, making children reliant on other people to keep them busy.
It’s important for children to manage their own time, feelings and emotions, and they should be able to solve their own problems. Downtime is necessary to realize that all problems have solutions. Children who are always busy with screens, socializing or homework don’t have time to learn higher order thinking.
True downtime helps relax and reduce stress and anxiety. Children with packed schedules are at risk for depression, anxiety and other psychological problems. Kids can’t regulate their time like adults, so they sleep too little and engage in too many activities. Parents should make sure their children have time to relax, which might require setting limits and rules that children won’t like to follow.
Of course, children are different and some of them need less downtime. But they all need quiet time, regardless of age. If you see that your child isn’t getting enough sleep or seems stressed, it might be a good idea to give them more downtime.