OPINION: Get the balance right with kids and tech
Written by founder of Stay At Home Mum blog, Jody Allen
WE LIVE in a world of rapidly advancing technology.
Every six months there is a newer, faster, better device on the market, with more features than the last, making life easier for some of us, and more complicated for others.
Our children are mesmerised by the world of digital, high resolution graphics; so much more appealing than the grey-ish green tiny screens and plinky-plonky sound effects of video games of the past.
No wonder our kids find these devices so much more engaging, they are everywhere.
Smartboards in classrooms, self-serve touch screens in the supermarkets, DVD players in cars and a pocket device that holds every modern day convenience imaginable.
Gone are the days of chalk, checkout chicks and having to make conversation with your little sister on a long car trip.
But this technology revolution has sparked a new debate as to just how much parents should allow their children to play on these devices, with most parents agreeing that their children are losing their ability to simply play.
So many parents are so impressed by their small children's ability to grasp this ever-changing technology, but as more and more children chose playing an app over playing in the backyard, an even greater number of parents are realising the innate instincts of children to run, play and imagine for themselves are rapidly disappearing.
A growing number of children are finding it harder and harder to be without these devices, developing an almost fear of having to create their own entertainment and a subsequent phobia of not being constantly entertained.
Some simple steps in combating this near-addiction in children include:
Strictly enforce times when children are allowed screen time: This can include TV, iPods, iPads, computers and other technological devices. Mornings before school are never a good idea unless the child is ready and has spare time, and after school is always the best time for play. Experts recommend no more than 1 hour a day for children under four, no more than 1.5 hrs for school aged children (not allowing for school related study for older children).
Encourage your child to get out and play, and praise them for their imaginary games: Try to embrace the mess and question their ideas and inventions. Even older kids love to still play "make-believe", don't admonish them for playing what are perceived as little kids games - chances are they were paying an app just like it!
Outdoor play promotes healthy living for the entire family: If need be, force your kids to get outside, even the most bored of kids will find something to entertain themselves in a backyard. Even just getting out in the fresh air to go for a walk with the family provides opportunities for conversation and shared experiences you just won't get with an app. Joining in shows how much you, as a parent, value outdoor play and imagination.
Use technology to your advantage: Give your kids the opportunity to search online for ideas of games and activities they can play when their screen time is over. There is so much children can see on a screen, but nothing beats the real thing.
Allow more physical video games if the weather is unsuitable: Interactive video games encourage physical activity and provide opportunities for the whole family to get involved. As a responsible parent, you are committed to being a part of your child's life, which includes the technological experiences and advancements in today's society. We need to find the balance between an inevitable part of our kids future and a valuable part of our own past.
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