Don’t let your child be gadget-dependent at a young age!
Like a bad love team, kids and gadgets shouldn’t be together. Gadgets can be harmful to kids, especially when used excessively. They keep children from being active and reduce real world conversations and connections.
But how do you wean youngsters away from their precious gadgets? What should moms and dads do to effectively limit screen time and bonding moments with all things “techy”?
“Getting children to ‘detox’ is something that is done ‘by example,’” says educator, wife and mother of two Aina Arcilla-Lacson, M.A., who owns Playseum and makes Lacwood Toys. “If children see [and live it daily] that their parents reach for their respective gadgets the minute they awake in the morning, then getting the kids to do otherwise will be difficult.”
Practice what you preach. If you want your child to detach from his gadget, parent’s shouldn’t be so dependent on their own.
Digital “detoxification,” she explains, can happen if there are interesting and interactive alternatives to do at home. But moms and dads always have to lead and initiate.
“If we parents expect our kids to ‘do it themselves,’ then we are gravely misguided. Children always follow by example,” Teacher Aina stresses. “If mom is forever on Candy Crush or Flappy bird during her free time, then children will do the same thing. We cannot keep nagging our kids to ‘Read your books’ if we ourselves are constantly reading online. Go out to lunch or dinner without the friggin’ gadget! Normal human beings talk to each other over meals. Not stare at their phones or iPads while waiting for the meal to arrive.”
Stop your child from being stuck to the television and give him outdoor activities to do.
Here are Teacher Aina’s suggestions on how to model good behavior and keep young ones engaged and entertained while away from their iPads, iPods, and other addictive doodads.
- Cook or bake together.
- Leave the house without bringing a gadget.
- Have movie nights with the family on a real TV screen, not on a tablet computer.
- Go to the bookstore often. “These days, bookstores allow children to browse through actual books. The feel of paper in the hand is also a good diversion: that pages are not necessarily ‘swiped’ all the time,” cites Teacher Aina.
- Join art classes. This will keep children’s hands busy, boost their creativity, and at the same time, keep their minds and bodies away from the glare of computer screens. Craft-work at home is good too.
- Visit a museum such as Museo Pambata in Manila. Teacher Aina says she has yet to meet a child who did not love this children’s museum.
When letting your child play in the pool or outdoors, never leave them unsupervised.
- Let them cool down in the pool or enjoy outdoor water play. A linoleum sheet, some shampoo or liquid soap and a hose with running water (or recycled rain water) are enough to keep the little ones busy for two hours.
- Introduce the child to a sport or a hobby. “It does not only benefit the body, it fuels and exercises the mind too. Research has always supported the notion that using the whole body to learn is more effective in using the brain,” Teacher Aina points out.
- Arrange gadget-free play dates with friends. Pretend play, musical games and building block towers should be allowed, but not game consoles and joysticks.
- Play board games. Teacher Aina notes that kids during her time were always fine with board games, “so why shouldn’t our children be?” Popular picks for several hours of family fun are Pictionary, Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble, Clue, and Candy Land. Older kids and teenagers are sure to like Monopoly, Scattergories and Taboo too.
“‘Techy’-ness is becoming too easy a ‘way out’ for parents to be parents,” observes Teacher Aina. “If we introduce gadgets and technology early, then we run the risk of never being able to remove them. The earlier, the harder to take away.”
What gadget-free activity have you done with your child recently?
About the author: Regina Posadas
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