Is your child easily distracted by technology? It’s no surprise that distraction has been called an epidemic by researchers and journalists. Many parents fear their teenagers spend too much time with technology and too little time developing their passion.
If your child’s most frequent answer to “What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?” is “I don’t know,” it’s likely that they haven’t found their passion yet. Some children develop passions from a very young age – those who know early on that they want to be doctors, or love playing an instrument and practice out of sheer pleasure – but others need to work a little harder to uncover what they love doing. This is completely natural, but nowadays social media and smartphones can take precious time away from worthwhile activities that help develop passions.
The truth is, a lack of exploration can distract children from developing personal interests or becoming passionate about a subject area. These students are at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for university, where they will likely compete with students who have been interested in their area of study for a long time. Ensuring your child finds their passion in high school is important for giving their studies a sense of direction, and there are plenty of ways to do it. Here is some advice from our schools on how you can help your child find their passion in the Age of Distraction.
Lead by example
Parents often tell their kids to put their phone away and just do something, but only those who practice what they preach are successful. Getting your son or daughter to try new things is crucial to exposing them to a potential new passion. Encourage them to say yes to new experiences like trying a new sport or going on a school trip, but if you do then make sure that you are the kind of person who can also put their phone down and welcome a new opportunity.
Encourage their interests
Throughout childhood and adolescence, many children express interests in a particular topic and then forget about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve lost interest; they might just need a little encouragement. Pick up on comments your child makes that express an interest and find a way to increase their attention span for it. If they find an artist on Instagram that they like, visit an art museum together. If their favorite TV show is set in the past, suggest that they read a history book about that time period. Their interest might turn into a passion, and the experience may inspire them to pursue similar ideas in the future.
Make learning exciting
Children spend a lot of time at school, so why not make it a school where they’re engaged by the curriculum and don’t feel tempted to search for distractions? The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma encourages students to explore multiple subjects areas and partake in extra-curricular activities related to creativity, activity and service. A fresh start or a positive experience studying at an international school abroad – where programs like the IB are offered – might be just the thing to reinvigorate your child’s interests.
If one thing is certain it’s that technology is here to stay. The same technology that distracts so many of us can be helpful for learning. If you think about it, many games teach important skills like communication (multi-player games) or problem-solving (logic puzzles). With schools bringing technology more and more into their classrooms, limiting your child’s screen time probably isn’t the best solution. Instead, harness tech’s power for good by using it to try learning a new language or developing a new skill. With so many apps, courses and tutorials available for free, the possibilities are endless. Developing a healthy relationship with it is key to reaping its benefits.
Focus on the future
High school is a very important period for personal growth and academic achievement, but it is also a steppingstone towards other milestones – most notably, going to a good university. Rather than asking your child the open-ended question of what they want to do after they graduate, start small by figuring out what they enjoy. Do they like working with people? Team sports, debate club or psychology might be potential fields of interest. Do they like traveling and learning about new cultures? An exchange trip or studying abroad can fuel their search for their passion. Your child might now know what their big picture future looks like, but focusing on the things they enjoy will help them discover what their aspirations are. Maintain perspective on what high school is for: the opportunity to take your child where they want to go.
At EF Academy International Boarding Schools, every student is provided with a world-class education, extensive extra-curricular opportunities and personalized university guidance to ensure they find their passion and reach their full potential.