When our children are babies, it’s pretty natural to snuggle them all the time. I mean, is there anything more blissful than holding your newborn child?! And it’s a pretty well-known fact that skin-to-skin contact for infants has profound benefits. It’s how we care for these beautiful beings that come into our lives, so delicate and dependent.
Fast forward a few years. Your child is more independent. He dresses himself, wipes his own butt, and spends his days at school. He comes home and immediately asks for the iPad, so he can watch YouTube videos that some wildly enthusiastic guy in the UK has created to share strategies of a popular videogame. And at the age of 7, he knows how to navigate anything that begins with a lowercase i better than you do….
This is my life these days.
We’re not just living in the digital age. It’s more like the digital age on steroids. Touch screen, voice activated, Wi-Fi, instant. Now this is not where I’m going to tell you to ban your children from high-tech anything.
I am a big fan and, of course, a user, of these devices. Who isn’t?! But, as a Mom, I’m constantly searching for ways to provide a healthy balance for my high-tech kids. I’m also always second-guessing my decision to allow my youngest, a 1st grader, to watch YouTube, even if it is only with supervision and boundaries.
One day as I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I peered over at my little boy who was giggling and talking back to a video on YouTube. I was thinking of the days when he was a chunky, dimple-cheeked baby who always wanted to be held. (I’m a Mom, we do these things sometimes as our children grow up!)
Overcome with emotion in that moment, I said, “Put down the iPad. Let’s hug for a minute.”
Immediately, he jumped up and ran over to me. We hugged for more than just a minute. It was then that I realized we needed more of this. So, without blaming myself for allowing him too much iPad time or blaming him for always begging for more time to watch his “YouTubes“, I made a promise to myself that I would carve out more hug time every day.
For Mother’s Day, he gave me a card he made at school. On the inside he wrote; I really love it when my Mom hugs me. For some reason, I was surprised that he didn’t write… because she lets me use her iPad! But I shouldn’t have been…
Besides the fact that everybody loves a good hug, hugging increases our levels of Oxytocin. A brain chemical, or “trust hormone”, that has all kinds of magnificent benefits. With the power to lift our spirits, help us heal and bond with others; just to name a few. Studies even suggest that a hug may boost self-esteem, reduce stress, and strengthen the immune system.
We don’t need all of these extra reasons to hug our children. We love them and they love us. But, aside from the coming and going of day-to-day life, at bedtime, when they are sick or hurt… how often do we stop everything, put down our phones and tablets, just to squeeze them?
Sure! When you think about it, it is quite a miracle that my 7 year old can learn how to play his favorite video game from a guy who is in his own living room thousands of miles across the ocean. Something that was inconceivable when I was his age. I want him to enjoy it. But, let’s not underestimate the power of a simple embrace!
I’m making it a top priority in my life. Hug time trumps iPad time. When there is more time for hugs, there is less time for screen-sucking. Our kids are growing up during a time when it is so easy to get lost in an abstract virtual world. Social interactions have become easier, yet less fulfilling, via the web, from a touchscreen. Basic human touch is even more essential for them now. Let’s hug them now. And then hug them some more!