“Child Burnout and Media Consumption” – How Too Much of a Good Thing Can Lead to Burnout.

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The new school year is in full swing and unfortunately so are the growing pressures on the students. Burnout versus enjoying Life – a balancing act that now also affects children.

Both Assessments of Health Promotion Switzerland and the Pro Juventute work together with university hospitals for child and adolescent psychiatry in Bern and Zurich and state: children are increasingly overwhelmed with their everyday coping. Stress, pressure, sleep disorders and listlessness are commonly observed fatigue symptoms. Some experts even fear that every third student has burnout symptoms.

Threatened Creativity and Motivation

“You can not force children to their full potential, you must let them realise their potential. But parents and schools want too much from children», the paediatrician Remo Largo criticised the current development. The British Psychological Society warns of the fatal consequences for society if the number of stressed students continues to increase.

In contrast, we experience that all children are born with an incredible desire to explore and create. This curiosity, joy of discovery and desire for creation – if it gets space and time to develop – leads to an impressive increase in skills in the first years of life. This enthusiasm for learning and the discovery of one’s own creativity are unique at the beginning of every human life.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Isn’t it at the same time the task and motivation of both parents and schools to maintain this learning and exploratory joy that ensures a full and important development? Surely many educators and parents would answer this question without hesitation. However, regardless of their motivation and will, many specialist agencies are finding a reverse trend in children.

The cause of the problem is not directly seen by parents or teachers, rather it lies in the transformation of certain values ​​in society and their impact on education. If these values ​​affect the thinking and actions of adults, then the children are affected even more.

Balance in Everyday Life

A wide range of professionals blame different origins for the increase in burnout in children, in which adult role models seem to play an important part in the childhood world:

Fast Pace and Variety on Offer
Permanent accessibility, reading of business emails also on weekends, during leisure time and even during holidays, a full program with almost unlimited possibilities.

Performance and Efficiency
A society in which everyone is measured by their performance conveys false values and leads to excessive demands on children. They are increasingly sacrificing their free time – in line with the role model of adults. In the hamster wheel of our meritocracy, the original is lost.

Media Consumption
35% of high school children use their mobile phone when they should be sleeping. 14% of these children, do this every other night or two. The association between the intensive use of digital media at bedtime and an increased risk of sleep disorders and depressive symptoms have been demonstrated in several studies.

Creativity, the joy of discovery and the motivation to learn are invaluable resources. Ongoing hectic experiences, excessive media consumption, constant pressure to perform and a highly programmed day can break this resource. Leisure, boredom, invented games, space and time for personal development – things that are often marginalised in everyday life, at school and at home – favour the emergence of the joy of discovery, the desire to design and finally the natural urge to learn new things.

However, this does not mean that performance requirements, media and full day programs should be entirely banned from everyday life. On the contrary, some experiences are certainly stimulating and can positively influence the desire to develop, the joy of discovery and well-being: achieving success in intensive work, experiencing multi-sensory learning through digital media or rounding off the day with a commitment in the sports club. So it’s all about having a harmonious interaction, which increasingly has become an unpleasant balancing act for some children.

An important orientation point is the confidence in one’s accomplishment. If a child goes through her or his everyday life with a feeling of self-confidence, we can assume that occasional stressful situations will not directly lead to listlessness or to a burnout. If a child experiences her or his everyday life as meaningful and comprehensible, has enough time to perceive her or his feelings and thoughts and experiences recognition and success, then the healthy optimism will consolidate in everyday life of the child.

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Controlling Media Consumption

It is important that parents not only accompany their children in their daily usage of digital media but also create a healthy user frame and make sure that children also have technology-free zones. Experience a gadget-free family time, where nothing distracts you from relaxing in each others company or playing together. If we have enough courage to overcome the original boredom, then sudden creative ideas will appear, creating a shared family experience.

These are the recommended times of media usage:

Until 6 years old – not more than 30 minutes a day
Until 9 years old – circa 40 minutes a day
Until 12 years old – circa 80 minutes a day

It is important to question when does the usage of a digital device really make sense. Assignments that can be done with a pen on paper do not have to be digitalised just because it’s trendy. However, when the use of a learning software or the digitalisation of learning content helps to attain a certain learning goal, then the usage of a device can only enrich the learning process.

Once the performance requirements, digital devices and the multiplicity of choice stop directing our every day, but instead complete it when necessary, self confidence together with motivation to learn and joy of life act preventively against burnout.

We wish you and your children the necessary balance to solve your multiple assignments while feeling motivated and full of joy.

Dybuster Tip
Preventing Child Burnout

Reduce Screen Time
You can control and limit your children’s’ devices by using an app.
Make sure that the content and user time correspond to your childs age.

Space and Time to Play Freely Without a Device

Boredom should not considered to be a negative in this case.

Bedtime is a Device-free Moment
For example you could create a charging station for the whole family. So all the devices will be collected for a quiet night.

Weekly Family Time
Plan your time together without devices.

Concious Change
Play time, fun and relaxation after finishing activities or assignments.

Sports and Clubs
Less is more!

Define a Healthy Amount of Performance Requirements
So your child experiences regular success (for example in exams)
It is important to celebrate these together.

Recognition and Praise
Highlight the great achievements of your child, don’t focus on failures.

The Importance of Balance
Don’t forget the importance of balance allow your child to just “be”.

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