These days, children are spending more and more time connected with a technological device. While there are benefits to this, there are also some serious drawbacks. Some experts claim that children who spend too much time plugged into devices are at risk of developing poor communication skills and concentration. There are also various risks associated with lack of physical exercise that comes with spending time on phones, tablets, and computers.
Parents, however, can reduce the risks of overexposure by setting some ground rules. Here are some ways to get children to unplug technology.
Allocate Specific Times for Technology Use
One of the best ways to get children to unplug is to set aside specific times for using tablets or playing video games and other times for spending time as a family. Allocate time for computers, tablets, etc. when you have something important to do like preparing meals, but remove all devices when the family is eating dinner. Instead, encourage communication among family members so that your children can practice verbalizing and expressing themselves. Look into getting a tablet that actually allows you to pre-program access time.
Read with Your Children
Do you have a child who doesn’t like reading? While there are apps that can address this problem, a better way is to spend time reading to your child. Younger children especially love the quality time it allows them to have with their parents, and books with pictures stimulate the imagination. Children also develop auditory skills while listening to you read aloud, and this can develop their vocabulary at a young age.
Develop Their Interest in Music
Getting your children to learn an instrument is a great way to encourage them to unplug from technology. Neuroscientists and early childhood education experts agree that because music engages different parts of the brain at the same time, regular practice results in more advanced brain functioning. There is a direct link between learning an instrument and enhanced verbal ability, memory, discipline, emotional intelligence, and even reading and math skills. Learning or listening to music together is a great family activity to unplug the kids.
Ban Devices from Bedrooms
According to a national Sleep Foundation Survey, almost 72 percent of young people between 6 and 17 years old have an electronic device in their bedroom. These 72 percent sleep one hour less on average than kids who don’t sleep with their devices. Doctors from Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York recommend removing devices from the bedroom at night. Set up a charging station in another room, and develop a bedtime routine that eliminates devices altogether.
Set a Good Example
According to a recent article in Parents magazine, children form their identity by imitating you. You can’t expect your child to develop good habits that you don’t exhibit yourself. Never bring your phone to the table, and unplug from your devices regularly when your child can see you doing it. Include plenty of family and conversation time in your own life. It’s your chance to unplug from technology, too.
Looking for ways to stimulate your children without technology? Visit K12 for some ideas on how to enhance their learning.
Image via Flickr by Chris_Parfitt