Are you finding it difficult to find alternatives for screens and to limit screen time? Here's what you can do help your child be busy without electronic gadgets
By Tharani Rathnam
Summer holidays come as a relief to all children, to escape the boredom of school routine. On the contrary, parents are worried about engaging the children at home, especially when they are hooked onto gadgets from dawn to dusk. Parents find it difficult to find alternatives for screens and to limit screen time. Read the article below on how to engage children in a digital-addicted era.
According to the article, More Screen Time Linked to Lower Psychological Ability, from the American Academy of Paediatrics published some years ago, exposure to screen time affects the overall well-being of the child. The blue light emission from the devices affects sleep patterns, suppresses creativity and disrupts eating habits. We all know that keeping children away from screens is one of the biggest challenges we face. Below are a few cost-effective tips that help engage children and help them keep screens at bay.
1. Set a specific time to watch TV: As parents, we must regulate our own screen time to set an example for children. More than watching a program, browsing through channels consumes much of our time. Hence, choose a time and a program to watch. You can also download a children’s movie from Netflix and enjoy the show as a family over a weekend. This helps children regulate their own TV time in the long run.
2. Take them to a zoo: Learning happens through observation rather than from just watching. Spend the day at a zoo with your children. Instead of teaching them about how mighty an elephant’s tusk is, observing an elephant using it’s tusk creates a better learning experience. Ensure the day is relaxed with no other commitments.
3. Take them to the library: “There is no friend as loyal as a book” – Ernest Hemingway. Yes, e-readers and e-books are always available. But there is something magical that happens whenever you hold a book to read, with the unique scent that emanates from it. Let your children be engulfed in the joy of reading. Take them to a nearest library and let them pick a book of their choice. Reading books, other than school text books, helps children expand their vocabulary and develop their imaginative power.
4. Encourage writing: Apart from reading books, encourage creative writing. Aside from their regular homework, ask your children to write about their interests. Expressing themselves through writing helps them think and gives them a sense of gratification. For instance, if the child is old enough encourage him to write letters to his cousins or friends staying in different cities.
5. Visit nearby shops: Shopping does not mean buying something every time. At a shop, encourage children to look around and teach them about operations like customer services, billing, warehousing etc. You could accompany them to a nearby car workshop where they can learn about repairs and other activities like car-cleaning. If your child is old enough, take them to a bank or a post-office and explain the various processes. One of our long-forgotten hobbies of collecting stamps can be introduced to our children today. It helps them learn about countries, denominations and famous personalities.
6. Make them learn traditional games: Traditional games like moksha patam (paramapadham in Tamil – dice game), pallanguzhi (Tamil), kho-kho and kabbadi are long forgotten. Most of the younger generations hardly play these games or have not even heard of them. These games are engaging, and games that use dice help children learn basic math skills. Kho-Kho helps children make quick decisions in a challenging environment. Encourage your children to play carrom and chess with friends rather than playing on the tab.
7. Include them in household activities: Parents can involve children in most household activities including cleaning, cooking and gardening. On weekends, prepare a meal together involving them right from purchasing groceries to presenting the dishes. It makes them feel worthy as they are involved through the entire process. Discover their best interests and make them tangible with activities.
Most importantly, when your child talks to you, put down your mobile phone and listen to him diligently, whenever possible. Your child will always want to share his achievements with you first and your undivided attention strengthens the connection between you and your child.
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