You gaze over at your child, who’s seemingly deep into homework. Typing away at what is sure to be an A+ term paper. You peer over his shoulder to see what the topic is and…Wait a second! Is he Skyping a friend? Before you lose your cool when your student takes a technology break, take a step back to see if it’s really that bad.
Power up or power through?
As a parent supervising homework, it can be frustrating to watch your child lose momentum and take a tech break. But in many ways it can be the perfect way to recharge. Think about you and your work….do you sometimes feel like checking out Facebook or doing some mindless web surfing when you need a break from a project? Your child is the same way — and probably even more so, given their dependence on social media — and FOMO (fear of missing out).
In fact, their focus on wondering what might be happening online can even make them less efficient as their mind wanders. Letting them take a break allows them to engage with friends online, and they can go back to their work.
Just as some kids might feel refreshed by going outside and shooting baskets in the driveway for ten minutes, your child might be ready to buckle down after shooting some baskets in a NBA video game, checking scores online or reading a Twitter feed from their fave team.
But having breaks anytime kids want can clearly be detrimental to their studies. Work with your child to establish smart break parameters. You might choose to use a timed break, as in a ten-minute break every hour. Or, a project break where they earn their ten-minute break after reading a certain number of chapters, completing a set number of math problems or finishing one subject.
Help your child think through a reasonable amount of time they should work to earn the break, and encourage them to set a timer so they know when the break is up. We all know how easy it can be to get sucked in online, but an app that tracks their time can help keep them on task.
Also, suggest they completely log out of their sites when the break is over. The buzz of a text message or ding of a new comment can make it too hard to stay focused.
Putting the Brakes on Breaks
For some kids, a break isn’t a good idea. Here are three signs that a tech break might lead to a breakdown:
- They frequently abuse their allotted time, and it’s hard to get them off the video game or Instagram feed.
- They get drawn into online drama and can’t stop thinking about it once their break is over.
- It’s too hard for them to get back on task. One study on office workers showed that it took them 25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. If your child has trouble getting back to business, a tech break may not be best.
As a parent, you know how your child will react to a tech break. It might be just what they need to return re-energized, refreshed and refocused.
What’s your household policy on tech breaks? Let us know below!