In today’s technologically-driven world, kids are used to completing all activities through their tablets and screens. You can hardly see kids playing in physical recreation spaces since many of them are accustomed to playing digital games. They are becoming increasingly distant from the real world as they immerse themselves in highly addictive games they can play on their smartphones, tablets, or computers.
Mindful Parenting in the Digital Age: Balancing Screens and Play
Kids can benefit from using different kinds of technologies. However, as parents, you must balance screen time and play so your kids can engage with other kids and foster their social skills, cognitive skills, and overall development process. To help you achieve a healthy screen time-play balance, here’s a helpful guide you can refer to.
Impose Rules on Screen Time.
Screen time refers to how much time we use gadgets with screens, like computers, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions, among many others. Using these devices offers recreational and educational benefits, but the negative consequences might be able to overturn these benefits.
Exposure your kids to excessive screen time might cause them to suffer from adverse effects like impaired social skills, sleep disturbances, decreased attention span, and reduced physical activity.
Considering these disadvantages, you as a parent must impose strict screen-time rules that your kids must follow. The rules must cover where, when, and how kids can use their devices. For example, you can tell them not to use their tablets during meals and in the car. Moreover, you can also tell them that no tech gadgets are allowed until all home and school chores are finished.
Moreover, teach your kids how they can make use of their gadgets. For example, an older sibling can only play a game that’s not age-appropriate for the younger kids when the younger siblings are asleep.
Take Regular Breaks
Impose short screen time sessions and encourage your kids to take regular breaks. You can set a timer to prompt them to move away from their screens and do something when it ends. You can tell them to run outside, play using an indoor climbing frame with slide for toddler fun, or even get creative by asking them to do a victory dance every time they win a game on their device.
Encourage Kids to Explore the Outdoors
It’s beneficial for kids to explore the outdoors. There are many activities they can enjoy outside if you allow them to. You can encourage them to play tag, chase, or tiggy. They can also explore things you have in the backyard, like gardening and building simple equipment with the spare materials in your garage.
Monitor the Content They Consume
It is essential to monitor what content your kids consume. This gives you peace of mind, knowing they aren’t fed inappropriate and upsetting content that may pollute their young minds.
You may check location settings, personal data safety, and security to ensure they consume age-appropriate and valuable content. Children are some of the most vulnerable targets online, so check what they’re into online, who they’re contacting, and everything else. When it comes to you and your children’s safety and well-being, there’s no such thing as an overreaction.
Maintain Open Communication
It is also essential to discuss screen time with your kids. Tell them why you have rules regarding screen time, the consequences of excessive screen time, and why they need to take breaks from their screens. This way, you can foster a nonjudgmental relationship with your kids regarding screen time.
This would encourage them to share their digital activities freely without thinking you might scold them. Also, tell them to share their interests and concerns regarding screen time so you can devise a balanced approach to addressing them.
Engage them with Creative Activities.
Many creative activities can help with your child’s development. Storytelling, dressing-up games, painting, drawing, and writing can help them think, analyze, experiment, and solve problems, thus preparing them for real-world problems they might need to resolve.
Arrange Playdates for Them
Besides being fun, arranging playdates for your kids can help them socialize with other kids, explore other cultures, build friendships, and exercise. As they interact, they learn to share and communicate with one another.
If you are the host, you can just set the time, date, and location ahead of time so the parent of your kid’s playmate can set their schedule and send their kid to your home. Typically, it will last a few hours before the other kid’s parent picks them up from your home.
Don’t Allow Technology Before Bed
Excessive screen time may disrupt your child’s sleep patterns. This is why you shouldn’t allow screen time before bed. The blue light from the screens interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, which regulates sleep. Without tablets, mobile phones, computers, or television, your kids can easily sleep and get the recommended amount of sleep for their age.
Families play a crucial role in balancing screens and play at home. Parents should be role models in fostering the correct behavior when using technology. As parents, you must practice what you preach. This way, your kids would take you as a good example and willingly follow the rules without the need for consequences or a reward system.