Today’s children are digital babies. Indeed, it is almost impossible to separate children from gadgets as they are fundamental in various stages of child development. Not only are gadgets like God-given gifts to parents who desperately need a break from their child, but they are also now used as part of their classroom.
However, did you know that children today suffer from gadget addiction, which comes with lasting effects on their development and health?
The development of a child’s brain is maximised by age 7 and further built on by age 12. Therefore it is important to give your child a balanced upbringing, not one that is gadget-oriented, to help them grow.
Over exposure to gadgets will only lead to various detriments, with the most common being headaches and mental disorders as they spend too much time on the screens.
Here are some simple ideas to help you manage your child’s gadget time.
Limit gadget time
While online platforms are great resources, your child can be zombie-like when they are watching their favourite shows on a loop; thus limiting their growth. Introduce limited gadget time (e.g. 30 minutes per session and should not exceed two hours a day as recommended by experts) to help them understand the concept of using gadgets in moderation. Explain to them on the dangers of having too much screen time. Additionally, parents are encouraged to interact and engage with children when they are watching their videos.
Encourage them to play!
This may be challenging, but do encourage your child to play as it is central to a child’s development. Be it learning a new hobby, or exploring a new toy, these are great ways for them to develop and expand their minds.
While gadgets may not be a good idea, selected children’s toys as simple as cars will certainly help engage a child’s senses and unleash their interactive skills, creativity and imagination.
Play time is where they develop their cognitive, physical, communication, social and emotional skills; giving them the best chance to grow up into whole, happy adults.
Play dates are a great way for this too! Not to mention that playing is a great outlet for children to relieve their stress and anxiety (yes, children get stressed too, not just adults!) Sometimes, even activities with a bit of mess can go a long way to benefit them in their future!
Alternatively, you can also send your child to play school. For instance, Little Averroes provides plenty of educational and fun activities for your child’s development. You can find them at our cari@unifi platform here
No gadgets meal time
It is easy to fall into the habit of checking your messages during your meal time. But children are great at imitating those around them so you have to set the example by putting away your gadgets at the dinner table! A child’s brain grows fastest in their first three years therefore it is important for them to experience the real world for their development as opposed to screens and studies have shown that screen time disrupts their sleep, school and real-life interaction with others.
Many children today perceived meals and social interactions with friends or family as ‘boring’ in the absence of gadgets. If your child has already developed tech addiction during meals, it probably means that he or she has acquired a need for continuous level of stimulation from the screens. In order to gradually overcome this, you may need to introduce eating games and activities such as:
- guessing games
- cut-out of food alphabets and various shapes
- chopstick challenge
- creative food decorations
Put down your phone and keep all the gadgets. Observe and be part of their growing up years. This will only bring benefits and greater quality time for you and your child at their cutest age.
Remember, decreasing your own gadget time would decrease your child’s dependency on it as well!
Allow them to help with household chores
It is always a good idea to let your child help you around the house. Though they might not do it perfectly at first, it teaches them about cleanliness and discipline while taking them away from their screens.
Studies found that children who did chores since they were toddlers tend to grow up into a more sociable, independent adults compared to those who only began doing house chores later in life. This seemingly mundane routine can help shape your child’s work ethics and learn about responsibility and self-reliance.
Additionally, it is a great way to bond with your child. Of course, household chores are always more fun when you do it together as a family.
Read books together
Just like how your grandparents used to narrate stories when you were young, it is now your time to do the same for your child. Reading is a great way to bring out the innate inquisitive nature of a child. Read them fairy tales, or a poem and throw in a folk song while you’re at it. Nurturing their reading interest would hopefully encourage them to pick up a book instead of a gadget the next time they are looking for something to do.
Today’s children don’t get to go to the park as often, nor can they roam around freely without supervision like the old days, but that does not mean you can’t find other ways to keep your child occupied.
Although parenting may be hard, time consuming and a struggle to some, it is also very rewarding as you see your child grow up and lead a happy, successful life.