Everywhere you look nowadays there are screens – televisions, tablets, phones, computers; even at supermarket and on buses! Technology has come a long way and it is essential that your child learns to master this tech eventually since they will need it for their studies and for practically any job they may consider. Even the most creative jobs of the art and music world have embraced certain forms of technology so there’s no escaping it and many great things have been born from this technological march forwards.
That being said, it is also incredibly important that your child spend time away from the screens too. Television and video games have been labelled as one of the biggest contributing factors (after poor diet) in the epidemic of childhood obesity which is spreading like wildfire through the developed world. All too often children sit indoors glued to the screens. Fresh air and exercise are essential for healthy development of the body and mind so as a parent you will need to get creative when coaxing your child away.
It is important that your child does have some screen time but instead of having the television on for long periods allow your them to identify one or two programmes they would like to watch, switch the television on at this time (or press play on the DVD or on demand service) but turn it off again afterwards. Children like rules more than we might think – consistency is the key to helping them understand what’s expected of them. Try the same thing with video games, outline a small portion of time for this within the daily routine and stick to it! Do bend the rules for special occasions and don’t count educational use in this timetable but do make everything clear to them.
Encourage family time as your children delight in spending quality time with you (this is true even if they are 14 and moan about every minute of it) and it’s so important to stay connected with your children. Find something you can do as a family; a board game or a card game perhaps, a puzzle or even a craft are great indoor activities. Why not get messy in the kitchen with some baking or prepping dinner together?
Don’t forget the great outdoors. Even if you live in a city spending time outside is vital so children can exercise and get that all important vitamin D. Again, finding things you can do together is great – dig your bike out from the back of the shed and ride together, or make it a race, they’ll love beating you! There are plenty of sporting activities you can try out together even if you only do it once and you both hate it, move on to the next idea.
Another great way to keep them away from screen is giving children responsibilities and rewarding them for doing well. This can be household chores or caring for the family pet but it really works and children get a great sense of achievement from succeeding in these tasks.
Lastly, it is paramount that you lead by example. You cannot chastise your children for being stuck in a virtual world 24/7 if you are too! Yes, your work is probably in your phone and laptop but you have to take breaks from it or save it until the children are in bed if needs be!