Do you ever think back to the days when cell phones and tablet computers didn’t exist? It wasn’t that long ago, but the times were certainly a lot different back then.
Today you might wonder how you manage without portable technology to keep your children entertained. It could be that today’s kids need too much entertaining. The iconic Toys-R-Us is shutting its doors and it seems like cell phones and other portable devices are replacing bicycles and skipping ropes.
Are you game to start cutting screen time in favour of cultivating imaginations and playing outdoors more often?
Here are some tips on how to start weaning your kids off of their (and your) beloved devices.
Limit access when they’re young
Sure it’s cute that a toddler can navigate an iPhone, surely it’s a sign that he’s a genius. But putting tech gadgets into the hands of babes can start a habit that will be difficult to break as they get older and you become concerned that they’re more interested in playing games instead of socializing and doing school work.
Does your son enjoy helping with dinner or growing vegetables? Does your daughter love building bird houses, painting walls and helping her dad with oil changes? Cultivate their hobbies by signing them up for after school or weekend courses that lean towards their natural interests. You may be surprised that they start to prefer hobby time over screen time.
Expose them to the arts
Most cities have a local theatre group that puts on plays or musicals that cater to kids. Preteens might balk at the thought of sitting through a “dumb play” but they may surprise themselves and really enjoy it. Just make sure they don’t pull their phones out of their pockets when the lights go down!
Have an open door policy
What’s the first thing a lot of kids do after they get home from school besides raid the kitchen? They go to their rooms and shut the door. A lot of private time instead of family time can be a sign that kids are stuck on social media. So how can you lure them out of their caves? How about sitting down and working out an after school schedule?
Penciling in time on a calendar for chores, homework, helping with dinner, after school sports, a walk or family TV time can fill up hours with quality time instead of mindless internet time.
Make sure to schedule in some online time too but keep it to a minimum, you don’t want to completely cut them off. Knowing that they only have 45 minutes on their phones might help them engage in quality conversations instead of gossip or online shopping.
Reducing access to technology isn’t easy but it can be done. What are some things you enjoyed doing when you were young? Throw some suggestions your kids’ way. They might realize you actually have a lot in common!