Thanks to the ubiquity of technology, our kids grow up in a very different world than we once did. Dial-up internet was just starting to become popular when I was in grade school, and while my friends and I all had cell phones in high school, we carried them with strict instructions from our parents that they should be used “only on an emergency basis.” Oh how times have changed! My husband recently upgraded to the new BlackBerry 10 OS , and our kids haven’t been able to put their phones down since! Whether they’re BBMing, tweeting, or streaming videos from YouTube, they just can’t seem to keep their eyes away from the screen.
While our kids are definitely lucky to live in a world where technology is so accessible, they often end up wasting a lot of time playing games, chatting with friends, or browsing the web. Try these tips to help you kids cut down on their smartphone usage and do something a little more productive with their time:
1) Plan activities together.
Planning a few family activities together is a great strategy for reducing your children’s screen time. Whether you plan a few hours of play time at a local park or a day out to the local museum or zoo, implement this simple rule on your outing: no smartphones allowed. Kids follow by example, so be sure to leave your phone at home or in the car as well.
2) Encourage them to be more social.
Older kids may be more resistant to spending time with mum and dad, and that’s okay. Instead of allowing them to hole themselves up in their rooms and spend the night communicating with friends over text, BBM, or social media, encourage them to do activities that require them to socialise in person. Chances are good that their school has a long list of clubs and activities for them to get involved with; it’s a great way to introduce them to new people and experiences while limiting their screen time.
3) Get active.
This suggestion is closely related to the first two points. As a culture, we’ve become less and less active as a result of our dependence on technology. Encourage your children to practice a sport or plan time to exercise with them after school. Want to employ technology in a productive way? Use an app to track your distance and speed while you’re out walking, cycling, or skating with the kids.
4) Set boundaries.
Technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of the classroom experience, making it difficult to determine when your children are using it for work or for play. If they need to research or type up a school assignment, make sure they’re doing it on a device on which you’ve set strict parental controls so that they don’t get distracted in the process. Limit their access to other devices while they’re doing schoolwork and check in on them every once in awhile to monitor their progress.
5) New Siblings.
Baby Maria-Jane Nimer
This has to be the best advice. A new brother or sister is always fascinating for the children. I recently gave birth to baby Maria-Jane Nimer, so the kids have been helping me out a lot, and spending time with the baby. I feel truly blessed with my family!