If you’re old enough you probably remember the time when you used your imagination to keep yourself busy as a kid. Unfortunately, parents in today’s age would rather turn on the TV to distract their children or hand them an iPad to keep them busy. As convenient as these digital addictions are, they’re teaching our sons and daughters to be dependent on technology from a very young age. It’s sapping them of their creativity! More than that, it’s keeping them from doing what kids do best: be active! Even sports have been replaced by video games. If you want your children to start participating in the real world, read these eight steps to get them to step away from their screens!
1, Be Their Role Model
Start with yourself! Kids learn what acceptable behaviour is from their parents before anyone else. Try to be a prime example for them by putting your phone down when you’re around them. Pay attention while they talk rather than scroll through your phone, and interact with them instead of spending hours binge-watching a show. Show them how they can use their time by being creative. There’s a popular quote that’s goes something like, ‘the child will follow your example, not your advice.’ Kids are watching you at all times, and soaking in your behaviour and attitudes. Make sure they absorb the right patterns!
2. Talk To Them
Kids are very receptive, and they understand when we talk to them with care and respect. Without demonising technology, explain to them how an excess of tablet screens, mobiles, and television can be extremely unhealthy for their small eyes. Kids who understand and acknowledge the fact that too much screen time is not healthy are less likely to break the rules and insist on more screen time. On the contrary, kids are told to avoid screens simply because their parents ‘say so’ are more likely to rebel.
3. Make Board Game Night A Tradition
Buy a stack of board games! Make a games corner full of all the ones you used to play in your childhood: Ludo, Monopoly, Scrabble, Cluedo, Carom! The list is endless. Dedicate a night every week to teaching them how to play these games. It’ll teach them sportsman spirit, bring on some healthy competitiveness, and give them some real-life interaction to look forward to. Break their cycle of spending hours on apps.
4. Read With Them
Getting children into the habit of reading can be super hard. Fill your children’s room with some popular books with engaging graphics covers, and tell them to read them out loud to you. If they’re too young for that, you can offer to read out loud to them — make it fun and use voices! It’s a great way to kickstart their interest in reading by themselves.
5. Watch Movies With Them
Instead of letting TV be an isolated hobby that kids indulge in alone on their tablets, get the family together to watch a fun animated movie. It’ll be a shared experience and one that isn’t them solely fixating on a screen, but sitting with their family!
6. Take The Initiative
Your young children might not be self-aware enough yet to make decisions for themselves — and technology often presents itself as the easiest, most accessible hobby. If you want them to spend less time on screens and more time outdoors, make it a point to take them to the park a few times a week. You could also sign them up for swimming or cricket classes! They’ll get to meet more kids their age, and also participate in a sport.
7. Set Technology Free Zones
Technology has become an integral part of our lives, and banning it in the house isn’t healthy either. Kids should have screen time but without the dependency. Create boundaries by initiating ‘technology-free zones’ in certain rooms of the house, like the living room. You could also allow technology during certain hours of the day, making it a rule to stay away from screens beyond a set time. This helps keep more of a balance between the virtual and real world our kids live in.