Many parents are dealing with the worrying concern of seeing their child glued to the screen, when they could be playing outside with their friends, or playing with more educational toys.
Screens are a common worry for parents. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are pretty entertaining to say the least. Televisions, smartphones, and tablets are all finding their way into the hands of children at a younger and younger age.
We adults tend to set a bad example, and spend many hours a day watching television, while simultaneously being hammered by concern about our children's hypnotic stare.
But is there any real cause for concern?
The effects of prolonged television on the minds of children is variable, and can depend on many factors, including the length of time spent watching, and the content itself. Ensuring that they avoid adult material is obviously a good start. Other research suggests that watching television too often may increase anxiety, emotional distress, and depression in children.
Your concerns seem pretty well founded, but in a modern world the answer is not just to ban and restrict, but also to encourage imagination and play. Here are some tips as to what to do if your child is glued to the screen.
Change Your Own Habits
Children model their behavior from adults, as any parent will know. First they imitate the way that we walk and talk, and then they begin to imitate other behaviors. If you are always glued to the screen yourself, then you will have a hard time stopping your child from doing the same. Firstly, if there is always a TV blaring in your home, then your children can always sit and watch it. But more importantly the older they get, the less they will respect your words and the more they will respect your actions. Your own habits are the building blocks for the habits of your children.
Set Restrictions On Screens
It might be necessary to set some restrictions on screens. As we know all too well, TV, internet, and games can be pretty addictive, and we cannot really blame our child if they find the intricately designed catchy music, colors, lights, and gameplay or stories alluring. It is advisable that you don't let young children have TVs and video games in their room, and that you set time limits on screens elsewhere in the home. Also, is there really any need for a 4 year old to have a mobile phone, or should they just be messing around with building blocks?
Encourage Outdoor Play
Children like to play outside, and can learn a lot about their environment from doing so. Drag them away from the screens, and take them out to the park, or on a walk round a woodland or lake, or out on a boat somewhere. You can take some educational toys with you in case they need some entertainment. Show them some of the real world, so that they will gain curiosity beyond the TV. Through experience, you can teach your children that life is really all about living.
Engage Their Imagination & Creativity
One of the most beautifully active parts of a child's mind, is their imagination. Screens stunt it, while imaginative play, social interaction, and creative activities open it up. The "zombiefying" effect of screens can be easily combated with some gentle encouragement, and perhaps a few tools; some crayons to color and draw with, some pens to write with, some blocks to play with. Story books inspire images in their own head, and allow them to begin to think and be inspired; much more than an episode of a soap opera.
Supply Them With Educational Toys
If you give your child an iPad, then they will use it. If you give them a decent box of educational toys