Thursday, April 17, 2014

The addictive Allure of Multi-Tasking



Do you, as parents, multi-task a lot? If you do, you may be setting a bad example for your children and teens as they grow up.  Parents have to take steps to find times to just BE with each other and their kids and teens as a family. Otherwise, our kids may be tricked into believing that it is praiseworthy to always be going and doing multiple things simultaneously.

     Multi-tasking has become very addictive in our culture. People are in a constant state of motion and activity. No one has any patience any more to slow down and to really enjoy what they are doing. Instead, they are always preoccupied with other things and thoughts as they are doing more than one thing over and over again. This can be a very troubling trend for our teens and kids.

     If we keep rushing and multi-tasking, after a while we will be less able to really see, hear and comprehend what is relevant and permanent. This is why our days as a family and community have so many loose ends. We need to finally stop all of the rushing and multi-tasking and start concentrating more so that we could teach our children and teens through our behaviour to do the same.

     The waning of our powers of concentration is reaching critical forms. We are on the verge of losing our capacity for deep and sustained focus.  This is a time when, through our actions, we are saying that reflection and concentration doesn’t matter as much as multi-tasking. Surely, we don’t want to keep creating an unconscious new world of multi-taskers that even we, as parents, can’t recognize.

     The way out of this conundrum is to start slowing down and concentrating more ourselves so that we could set these habits in our children and teens. It is a time to show our kids and teens that being quick is not as important as intentional and reflective. It is a time to rejuvenate and reconstruct our need for concentration and focus and not reduce it to a whole series of actions that may lead to some unknown result. We need to focus on the present moment and what we are doing to make sure that our kids and teens are reflecting and concentrating a lot more than they are now.

     There are a few ways to make sure that we don’t cultivate lives of distraction. Here are a few ways to do just that.

·         Slow down and don’t rush—teach your kids to leave early for appointments so that they don’t have to run;
·         Discourage multi-tasking by not multi-tasking yourself;
·         Encourage unplugged times from all technologies for your kids when you can sit as a family and chat and play games;
·         Get out in nature—without your technological devices;
·         Take the time to BE—these should be times when you are not watching television, texting, or cruising the internet;
·         Instigate and create reading times in the family—even if it is half an hour after dinner or sometime in the evening;
·         Reward your kids and teens when they focus and concentrate—and try to get into the habit of focusing yourself (kids and teens usually emulate their parents and peers).

By taking these steps, you will be encouraging your children and teens not to multi-task and to be a lot less distracted. Hopefully over time, this will set better habits for them to act on.

     So, let’s take steps not to slip into a time of ignorance. Let’s take the time to concentrate and focus. Let’s slow down, and yes, let’s enjoy the moment. And don’t forget to check out that sunset or sunrise tomorrow, and make sure that your kids and teens can appreciate such marvels of nature too.

Irene S. Roth

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