Everyone’s always talking about how to be ‘unplugged’ in the current world we live in. I think for many of us parents, we find this important. We want our children to grow up like we did, with little or no electronics, and many experiences outside. But how do we accomplish that when so many of their peers, are indeed, plugged in?
- Start early and start young.
The best advice I can give to parents, is to delay any electronics as long as you can. Don’t put them in front of iPads with kiddie shows, or hand over your phone with a game on it. When they’re young they won’t know these things even exist, so you might as well take advantage of that. Coloring books, story books, toys, whatever else can occupy their mind, instead of the easy go to of sitting them in front of a screen.
- Create a love of other things.
I knew I wanted my kids to be readers so I started reading to them soon after they were born. Then we created a night time routine of reading a half hour before bed. It began with me reading to them, transitioning to them reading themselves. We do not use a Kindle, we read real books. They also loved puzzles, and arts & crafts. It can also be sports, it may be dance, but find activities that have nothing to do with a battery or an outlet.
- Have open communication about the negative consequences of too much electronics.
When kids have examples they can see with their own eyes, they can accept something better than if it’s just a lecture from the parents. It’s okay to point out a friend or neighbor who may have poor social skills due to constant video gaming. Or perhaps a friend who may not be in great physical health because of being sedentary due to always being on their computer. Of course this needs to be done with great care, so you’re not criticizing other children, but it does help them see with their own eyes, what being ‘plugged in’ may be creating.
- Don’t swear it off completely.
I’m a big believer in the old adage, “everything in moderation”. Well, almost everything. I do think that when kids get told they can’t have something, or do something EVER, the first thing they do when they’re at a friend’s house or get out of your house, is exactly that. I allow my kids a little time to play some games on the computer (which I monitor). I also let them see some videos and watch some things on my phone, but I would say it’s 10% of their time. Nowadays they have so much screen time in school, you can’t make it completely off limits anyway. I like to show my kids cute animal videos that come across Facebook, and they like to show each other games that their friends told them about at school.
Remember if you start them off with no exposure, you can control how it’s gradually introduced. It can be tempting when you need down time or quiet time to resort to screen time, but in the end you’ll find that your children plugged into the world around them, is so much more rewarding than being plugged into their devices!