Technology is highly integrated into our lives; we have our family and friends on Facebook, work on LinkedIn, and put our hobbies on Pinterest… It’s not surprising, that children are following our example and getting more addicted to smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Many would argue that it serves no purpose to keep them off technology. However, you can teach and guide your child to use screens in a smart way.
Top 5 Tips for kids (aged 0 to 3-4 y.o.)
Considering this age group, remember that the later you will introduce gadgets to your child, the better off they are. No gadgets should be in your child’s hands until at least 4 years old. Up to this point, they are learning far more by experiencing and interacting with their surroundings in the world, than by any digital experience.
However, if you have already handed over your iPad to your child, best to implement a few of these tips!:
– Pay more attention to your child and what they see on the gadget. Never let them ‘free surf’ the net.
– Identify their favourite toy at home and focus attention on it, rather than the tablet. Put the tablet away for a while after you do this.
– Go outside and do not allow the tablet to accompany you. Do something physical like visiting the playground, go on play dates, walk to get a treat… Just get outside!
– Read books. Read to them, have them sound out words, teach them. This tip is really about committing your time to read and sharing with your little one. These activities will help your child to investigate the real world with you, not with smart devices as their only guide.
Top 5 Tips for early school children (aged 5-12 y.o.)
At this age, most children have already used gadgets actively, watching YouTube, using Snapchat and playing games. The best decision during these years is to regulate the content and time your kid is spending online while sticking to the narrative that time will be distributed between physical activities and gadget time.
Following tips can be good ideas.
– Plan some family activities together that are tablet free. (Zoo day, Museum day, action day)
– Make “no-gadget time” before going to sleep. Researchers say 2 hours before bedtime is a solid approach. Fill the time with nighttime rituals of getting ready and reading books.
– Tablets or phones and homework do NOT mix well. Gadgets go away, homework gets done. When homework is done and checked, you can return devices.
– Meals and gadgets do NOT mix. In our home, all gadgets are turned off until after meal time and are rarely present at the table during regular time.
– Work on a hobby. Building models, writing in a journal, creating art, exercising. Whatever you choose, go all in on it!
By involving yourself and limiting YOUR time on devices, you can help in developing your child’s real talents and skills. Show them how to level up in real life.
Top 5 Tips for teenagers (aged 10-12 to 16-18 y.o.)
Trying to wean teenagers off electronic devices is a very difficult task. In fact, the more you ban, the more they want. Their friends are online, social activity is happening online, and your kid just wants to be like the other kids during this time. Kids in this age group have a drastic fear of missing out (FOMO) It’s tough on them and you, no doubt about it.
Treat your child like to a grown up regarding this issue. Explain that gadgets steal a lot of our time and explain to them that these electronic devices are not all fun and play, they can have a great effect on their social standing, their future and their present. They can be dangerous as well. Better informed is better prepared.
– Be your own person. Don’t let digital friends or strangers pressure you to be someone you aren’t.
– Be nice online and in games. Remember, the internet never forgets. If you’re cruel online, it may come back to haunt your future self.
– Always stay active in nondigital activities like dance, sports, music and more.
– Expand on the concept of no phones or gadgets at the dinner table.
In any case, our main task as parents is to prepare our children for the world they will face, not the one we faced. It’s a technological world, and helping your kids learn to use devices effectively without being a slave to them might be the best thing you teach them during these formative years.