Your kids indeed love to play games, whether on the computer or TV with Xbox, PlayStation, or other electronic devices such as cell phones and iPads. It’s okay to teach your kids how to use all these electronics. We live in a technically advantaged society and its good for the kids to learn to use and be proficient on these devices, however that use should be limited.
Studies have shown in the past year or two regarding the over-use of electronics by kids and what it is doing to their brains. Kids are being overstimulated by all these devices. Kids are spending way too much time on social media and playing games.
There are many negative effects of social media on kids such as depression, inadequacy, cyberbullying and other things. Why subject our kids to these things when we don’t need to? There are so many other things kids can be involved in other than spending so much time on social media or devices.
What Do the Experts Say?
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. in “Psychology Today,” pointed to ways that technology is affecting kids today –
It is affecting their attention span which can also affect school performance
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mobile devices “may negatively affect the children’s opportunity to learn how to self soothe and regulate.” Multiple studies have shown an increase in violence and aggression from access to popular video games. A few examples of how too much time on electronic devices harm children are that it “decreases their physical activity which in turn affects their health. Use of computers or other devices used as distraction reduces interaction, emotional development and problems solving skills.”
According to https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/ most academies, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting the use of media to 1-2 hours per day for older children and no exposure to electronics for children before the age of two.
What Are the Alternatives to Electronics?
Reading is a great alternative to using electronics. Help your kids set a goal to read for an hour or more a day and earn a certain amount of play on devices. You may choose to set up a bonus system where they earn time with electronics. They could read a book or a chapter to earn a specific amount of time on the computer or iPad to play games.
Puzzles or Legos
Teach your child to work with puzzles or Legos. Purchase a few puzzles or Lego sets that are appropriate for the age of each child. Sit with them and work together on a puzzle or build something together. Set up a special spot for your child or children to sit and put together their puzzles or build with their Lego sets. Encourage them to build something or put their puzzles together a little each day. This is a great way for your children to focus on something other than electronics. Putting a puzzle together or building something will help a child with their cognitive skills, help with their hand-eye coordination, and practice good communication skills when working with other children or an adult. There is a sense of accomplishment when something is completed also.
Make sure your children get plenty of physical activity each day. It is important for their well-being, their health, their heart, their brains, and their muscles. Children need at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day. Every child, if he/she is physically able, should have some type of physical activity. Don’t let your children become couch potatoes, gain weight and become unhealthy. That is your job as a parent.
Kids need to learn responsibility. Use chores to help them earn time on their electronic devices or computer to play games. This helps them to gain a sense of accomplishment too. Assign different chores to earn a specific time of use on a device.
Make sure to praise or compliment your kids on the things they do accomplish. So many minutes playing or exercising – “good job.” A chore or job well-done – “you did a great job and I appreciate it.” If they read a chapter or two – applaud their efforts. Nothing helps a child feel appreciated or accomplished than praise from a parent or other grown-up.
You may have other things for your children to do to keep them active and not spending so much time on electronic devices. Just remember it is not a bad thing for your kids to learn to use them, they just don’t need to be on them all the time. It’s all about balance and moderation.