In one of my previous articles, I approached the sensitive subject of children having fun without screens in the digital era.
Before jumping to set your children some screen-time limits, be sure you understand why they need to spend hours and hours online, in the first place. For many kids, this is an easy way to find the content they want. At the same time, it gives them a sense of freedom to explore their own interests. Is there something, anything, you can do about it? Well, I think it is.
As a parent, you should never stop searching for your kids’ interests and educational needs. I am very aware of that since I am a parent too. So, here are some tips to make sure you engage your kids with a healthy digital experience:
Even if it’s about watching Ariana Grande on MTV, playing Minecraft, or hanging out online, consider the high-quality of the screen time. Any kid should be allowed to use age-appropriate media that engages their imagination and offers them the right values. When I am with my kids, I ensure that they can earn their screen time if they are willing to do some chores. And on a related note:
Use a simple screen time chart
I’ve never liked boundaries and I’m pretty sure kids hate them too! Why not making a weekly calendar for all media, instead? It is simple and efficient. Consider the types of screens your kids can use and the amount of time. Assign different chores for each, like cleaning their room for 20 minutes to watch Netflix or set the table for 30 minutes to play their favorite video game. And never forget to introduce them something new from now and then like a cool app their friends already use.
Create off-screen spaces
There are plenty of ways to avoid the use of heavy media in the same time introducing technology into your child’s life in a safe, fun, and controlled way. Woogie, for example, is that kind of smart toy that stays cool, waiting in the kids’ room to make learning and discovery fun for children. He plays energizing songs, he makes jokes and says positive things. He can even remind the kids to grab their stuff for school or set goals for the day ahead! And when the weather is nice, he encourages kids to spend more time outside and to challenge parents with fun activities.
Be present and interactive
I encourage my kids to do those activities they love but I never use technology as a reward for their good behavior or take it away when they misbehave. I think it’s even more appealing when they don’t have it! So, we rather watch movies together, and listen to music and discuss almost every little concern they have. I also like to invent silly games, like this one: for each book one of my kids read, I read two! I’m overly optimistic, but I think one day this practice may work. :)
Offer them a ”digital education”
- As long as we can not avoid technology, we really should make the most of it and by that, I mean offering our children a digital education. In the same spirit as the usual, classic education, we can teach them about the good and verified online sources and resources. For instance, every time I find something that I know my daughter may show interest in, I instantly send it to her. And that's the start point in the so-called ”digital education” because in time she finds those sources not only interesting but trustful too.
Now, of course, every age is different, and every parent can come up with different ways to create a positive digital culture at home. After all, it’s all about helping your children to find that balance and see what fits better for your family's lifestyle.
Do you have an active tip that you want to share with other parents? I’m interested in what you think. Let me know! Feel free to leave your comment below!