In a technology age, it’s hard to keep electronics away from your kids. Long-gone are the days of one-hour-a-day screen time. Now, we have TVs, smartphones, computers, tablets, and more to entice our children to immerse themselves in something digital around every corner.
Fortunately, there are a few things we can do as parents to limit our children’s desire for endless technology use – even if it means joining in sometimes.
Arrange Fun Outdoor Activities
Most kids love being outside. Even if they won’t admit it, they do – and it’s good for their health. It gives them plenty of room to be as active as they want, improves vision with natural light, adjusts their sleeping schedule, gives them a break from indoor air, and increases attention span.
Create a whole “field day” in your backyard or at the local park. Make an obstacle course, shoot some hoops, play a game of dodgeball, or play tag. See who can run the fastest, throw the farthest, and jump the highest. A little friendly competition will sneak in fun ways to stay active and keep your kids having fun outside – and away from technology.
Help Them Find a Creative Talent
Kids may have hidden talents that they haven’t discovered yet, simply because they’ve never searched for them. Rather than spending time after homework to draw or play an instrument, they grab their phones to play games with their friends.
As a parent, you should be on the lookout for creative talents: drawing, singing, writing, dancing, and even athletics. Does your child follow along well to the moves in the Just Dance video games? Does she have a knack for writing creatively when she has projects in school? Keep your eyes peeled so you can help her discover what she doesn’t know she has.
Then, offer ways for your child to get inspired to tap into those interests. If he digs drawing, buy him some comic books or take him to a museum to view famous works. If she can outrun her peers, encourage her to join a sponsored run for charity in your community.
Get Them Into Cooking
Cooking with your kids provides a way for kids to share quality time with you, gain independence as they enhance their skills, and even learn about science. Parents get nervous thinking of their young kids in the kitchen with sharp and hot objects, but as long as you’re constantly supervising until they get older, it can be a truly enriching experience.
Look through recipe books – or even use your child’s beloved tablet – to find recipes he’s interested in. Start small, but encourage him to eventually be open to more culturally-diverse or challenging recipes. The more he tastes, the more appreciation he’ll gain for other cultures, flavors, and variety.
And, cooking gives you an opportunity to bring in some science by talking about the relationship between food and your body or creating fun experiments with different ingredients. Making cooking fun is the key to making it stick as a passion.
Teach Them to Craft
Remember when you were little and made endless homemade projects for your parents? Although they may have collected hundreds of loomed potholders from your childhood, they still loved them. Not only were you creating something with your hands, but you were using your time creatively – learning, experimenting, and having fun.
Today’s kids don’t do this as much. The joy of crafting and being creative has become replaced with “coloring” pictures on an iPad or “designing” outfits on a computer. The real deal of creating with your hands has become a thing of the past.
So, help your kids learn to craft. Start with Pinterest, which provides thousands of ideas, from super easy to more complicated, that even kids can have fun with.
Teach them to screen print their own t-shirts, design personalized mugs, make handmade ornaments, or knit their own scarves. Once they see all the amazing things they can make on their own, they’re bound to keep creating.
Acknowledge Their Efforts in Everyday Life
Does your child get enough praise or feedback from you on things not related to electronics? Instead of harping on his use of technology, consider sending more praise his way in other areas of his life, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
If you child happened to have an exceptional day being kind to her sibling, tell her so. Or, point out how well neatly she wrote on her homework paper. Praise the way she performed at dance class or thank her for helping with the chores.
Your child might simply be retreating into a digital world because it provides instant gratification she may not be getting in her life. The more you show her she’s appreciated and praise-worthy, the more desire she may have to lay off the electronics and expand her hobbies into other areas.
Join In With Electronics
If your child is going to use electronics, you could at least join in to make it a better bonding experience and show her that you’re interested in the things she likes. Plus, you’ll get a better sense of what she does when she uses technology.
Perhaps, her favorite game actually takes some major brain power and doesn’t involve sitting on the couch staring mindlessly at a screen, like you previously thought.
Tell your child you’ll spend 20 minutes or so a few times a week playing a video game of his choice, browsing Facebook, or Snapchatting friends with him. It gives you a chance to spend some quality time together and show him you appreciate his interests.
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