As the temperatures dipped to minus 10 degrees Celsius and the winds howled at 30 km/hour we were warm and toasty bundled up in our stone hut. We prepared our fire and enjoyed our delicious dinner by candle light. We played board games, told stories and laughed .

The snow fell outside, dancing in the light and inside we enjoyed each other as we rarely get to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy modern amenities as much as the next guy and heat and electricity are certainly up there on my list of necessities. Yet somehow, not having to compete for my teenage son’s attention over how many “likes” he has or get my daughter to step away from her latest new show, was a welcome change.

Like most of us in our chronically distracted culture, spending time focusing on just one thing at a time is not a habit we cultivate. Our kids don’t just watch TV – they are on Facebook, listening to music and texting all at the same time.
According to Stanford University sociologist, Clifford Nass, who pioneered the studies on multitasking:

“ People who multitask can’t filter out irrelevancy. In fact, insurance companies consider texting and driving to be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Our brains just aren’t designed to work that way.”

In a report from a research seminar at Stanford on the impacts of media and multitasking on children’s learning and development 2010, psychologist Edward Hallowell observed that constant task juggling can cause situational Attention Deficit Disorder . Lori Bergen demonstrated that dividing attention takes a toll on learning and meta cognition.

So what are we as parents supposed to do?

1) Practice Mindfulness

According to the Association for Mindfulness in Education the benefits of teaching mindfulness to children include:

  • Increased emotional regulation
  • Increased social skills
  • Increased ability to orient attention
  • Increased working memory and planning and organization
  • Increased self esteem
  • Increased sense of calmness, relaxation, and self acceptance.
  • Increased quality of sleep
  • Decreased test anxiety
  • Decreased ADHD behaviors- specifically hyperactivity and impulsivity
  • Decreased negative affect/ emotions
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Fewer conduct and anger management problems


2) Take a media holiday

You don’t have to hike to the top of a mountain to limit the hours your kids have screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours per day as well as certain areas that are screen free zones, such as bedrooms and dinner time.