We’ve all been there, done that: whispered passing comments about how the children at the next table have their eyes completely glued to the screens of their phones and iPads. And with headlines after headlines hitting the newsstand, asking if the future generations are becoming too obsessed with their gadgets in recent years, it’s time to have a serious sit-down. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t technological luddites – we believe that everything is best in moderation. What we propose is not so much going cold turkey, but rather finding ways to strike a healthy balance between harnessing the benefits of these gadgets and making sure our children don’t forget to live in the now.
Don’t give into your child’s cries and tantrums
You’re frazzled and exhausted – sleepless nights and chasing after your active child has left you running on empty. The second he or she scrunches up that nose and you know all too well that a wail will follow, you chuck your phone or iPad at them. While it’s understandable that this is the quickest way to placate them, it also feeds into their addiction and creates an unhealthy habit. Is it any wonder then that tantrums come out to play when you finally decide that you would like to spend some quality time with them? Your child isn’t the only one who has to kick his or her gadget dependency to the curb.
Fill their time with other activities
Some kids – the older ones especially – tend to turn to computer games and gadgets as a way to relieve stress after school. While limiting their gadget time is great, it also leaves them with pent up energy and frustration – this could add stress and build tension within the family. Instead, find other ways to get them outdoors – exercise is always great to relieve stress and flood their systems with endorphins (the feel-good hormones). Check out what extra-curricular activities your child’s school has to offer and sign them up.
Invest in boardgames
Organise boardgame nights or afternoons, where the entire family gathers around to indulge in some quality family time. This is a great way to build camaraderie between each member and is a great way to divert their attention and energy from electronics.
Lead by example
Practise what you preach. It will strike your kids as you having double standards if you limit their game time but spend the rest of the evening at home transfixed by your phone – even if it is for work. You need to learn as well, ways to separate family time and work time – and don’t mindlessly will the hours away playing Candy Crush in front of your children.
- Share the family gadgets
Don’t get your child his or her own phone or iPad until they’ve reached a certain age. Hopefully, by the time they hit their teens – the health practices instilled by you would be enough for them to form better self-control. Stick to gadgets that are shared among family members and come up with a clear-cut schedule on who gets to have the gadget at certain hours. With this system in place, it should also help keep sibling squabbles down.
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