“My children need constant stimulus. They cannot be still. They need instant gratification and continuous entertainment from the moment they wake till the moment they go to bed.”
This is a common concern amongst parents I work with. The very nature of smart phones is that of instant gratification, the promise of never feeling bored, immediate results at your fingertips and endless stimulus.
This is why the buzzword mindfulness is on every parent’s lips.
This April, Screen Smarts set out to understand mindfulness as an anti-dote to the less healthy consequences of our gadgets. We interviewed Milan Murray-actress, director, mom, and founder of The My Story Tribe to understand the benefits of being mindful.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Milan Murray believes that we cannot expect our children to be happy in stillness, regulate their emotions or find affirmation away from social media, if we do not instil in them the ability to be mindful from time to time.
Dr. Kelly McGonigal from Stanford University describes the three main elements of mindfulness as:
She goes on to say: “Technology really interferes with this process because it makes you forget what matters to you (intention), distracts you (attention), and keeps you from taking action.”
Milan adds that:
“We cannot expect their brains to be comfortable with silence and less stimulus if that is what the brain is used to. We need to create times for them to be bored.”
THE BEST CONNECTION HAPPENS WITHOUT WIFI
One of the largest downsides to technology is the disconnect that we see in families. Children often feel disconnected from their siblings, parents, and friends. To read more on the topic of disconnection check out our blog: The best connection happens without WiFi. Milan echoes this sentiment by mentioning:
“Specifically in this day and age when we are so busy. Parents have deadlines and our own stressors. Children: their programs are so jam-packed, so we all tend to, when we get a moment, shut the door, take our device, and get lost in whatever it is that we like. So even when we do have a moment for connection, we don’t.”
According to Milan: mindfulness creates opportunities for connection. Take sitting in the traffic, in silence for example, the awkward silence only lasts seven minutes and then conversation happens.
“The greatest benefit that a family who prioritises mindfulness can enjoy is reconnecting with one another,”
says Milan. Establishing connection in a child’s formative years is imperative to build a solid relationship that can whither the storm of adolescence.
As a family prioritising mindfulness when rushing from one engagement to the next can be tricky, but scheduling time for reconnection away from devices is a valuable habit to form close, long-term, attachments.
Here are some practical tips Milan Murray offered from her personal experience as a mom:
“When my child started primary school sports, I had my phone up to record and take pictures while he was in the game and then I realised I wasn’t in the game. I didn’t watch the game. I realised I cannot be really present in the situation while looking through a lens,”
Being mindful of your use of technology and the impact it has on your connection as a family is imperative, as it spills over into other aspects of well-being. Mindfulness principles can be applied to who you choose to spend time with, what you prioritise and fill your days with and the attention and intention with which you mindfully chose to live.
GET TO KNOW MILAN MURRAY:
Milan Murray is a South African icon. She is an actress, writer and director. She is known for her role in Isidingo: The Need, co-hosting the kykNET breakfast show Ontbytsake and starring in the M-Net drama The Wild. She is a mom and founder of The My Story Tribe and is passionate about mindful parenting.
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