As a parent, have you ever had a gut feeling when your children are playing video games when they could be running in the fresh air looking to make mud pies?
Or perhaps their blackberries are clicking away at the dinner table and they are unable to be present at this lovely family time?
Well, your gut is spot on!
Always listen to it, especially in parenting!
A little goes a long way
Don’t get me wrong, a little tv/tech time is truly awesome. We have many amazing advances in technology it would be simply bananas for children not to show interest in.
We are able to keep up with family members and friends using technology with a quick press on a button!
The benefits of interactive play many ipads and smart devices have are just great! Through participating in these touch screen games and activities they can help develop:
- Children’s memories
- Creativity and imagination
- Dynamic thinking
- Promotes teamwork skills
- Education skills
However, there is an extremely fine line between a little and a lot.
Whether it’s in the car, bus, at home, you name it- screens are increasingly popping up in children’s faces more than ever before!
In attempts to “hush” our children, we are suddenly left with 2 years old’s who can switch on devices and jump into a game back to front but have no desire to jump on scooters and have adventures outside!
Do you know what’s happening to your child?
Influence on behaviour
As a parent, have you ever noticed your child come off technology suddenly super cranky and emotional? You’ll know when your child has had too much screen time, this is the most common reaction!
Just as your child’s little brain is craving to be fed with everything it needs, their emotional wellbeing is also incredibly important to be nourished! Children heavily rely on relationships and human interaction to balance their feelings and communicate. By practising this through human relationships helps children’s understanding of their, and other people’s feeling grow. Many games are not going to have the same level of support and understanding we’d give to them. This is why often children will come off games frustrated, angry and grumpy.
Try incorporating media literacy into real-life activities
I understand in this day and age, many children are fascinated by media and may not show sudden interest for any other activities. So by incorporating this behaviour activity, you can relate to media yet also give your child/teen a break!
Have your child pick their favourite movie or book and ask them to pretend to be a character from the story. Dress up, use a few home items as props! Perhaps focus on an emotional scene. Ask your child how is their character feeling/what’s happened/how are we going to solve the problem? Now you’ll suddenly be teaching your child a whole lot and having some fun family time!
Influence on the brain
If many children only know of an object from their iPad’s, how can their brains possibly get the full sensory experience?
How does your child know if a flower is going to smell good, be soft to touch or the thorns would prick their hands if they have only seen it on a screen?
The brain is such an amazing, complex structure. Children’s brains are like little sponges hungry to be filled with all types of information, senses and experiences.
A little tech time can be educational but too much of it, and their brains will simply not be stimulated the same way it used to be, even as close as 20 years ago!
In 1999 children were spending more than 3 hours a day with televisions and now it’s jumped up to a whopping 7 hours a day!
Suddenly, this dramatic dive in physical activity, social interaction, adventure and new senses experienced means our children’s brains are really only half getting what they and their brains truly need!
Try incorporating media literacy into real-life brain-boosting activities
Take your kiddos favourite movie just as we did before and make up the ending! Perhaps encourage a family movie night and after, encourage your children to make a better/more exciting ending!
(For ages 2-6) Create a simple sensory tray using things around the house. Perhaps flowers from the garden/ pasta/ rocks/ fussy cushion covers/ jelly. As your kiddo to describe the texture of each and what they see/feel/hear/ taste (if edible)/ and smell.
Influence on health and wellbeing
Did you know there is a direct link between child obesity and too much screen time?
It is completely shocking how little physical activity our children are getting in today’s society! According to guidelines, children need at least 60 minutes a day of exercise and a minimum of 3 days a week.
More time sitting than participating in exercise can lead to:
- Increased risk developing disabilities
- Exhibiting violent behaviour
- Increased blood pressure
- Lack of social skills leading to loneliness
- Delayed language ability
Instead of screen time, make a new routine perhaps one night a week which involves one of the following:
- Family swimming
- Half an hour meditation try this one (although there are many other amazing guided meditations to try!)
- A walk in the park after nursery/school
- Obstacle course (try in your garden and use old cardboard boxes and holla hoops- this can also be great fun!)
- Family race -try in your garden or at the park (egg and spoon race, three-legged race, bean bag, you name it!)
Always trust your gut in parenting, if you have a feeling, it is there for a reason! That on its own will already create an amazing little human! As always please let me know your thoughts on our digital age and whether you agree with me down below!
Peggy, 16 months