When we were children, the new technology we have nowadays were not around. At least it didn’t play the leading role it does now. We were dying to go outside and play. After school, we just wanted our parents to let us meet up with some friends, go to the park, and run around. Spinning tops, some marbles, or a ball used to be enough to make us happy.
But today, the situation seems to have changed. It’s common to see little ones spending their free time glued to screens. They start watching TV as soon as they get out of school and then they move on to playing with their parents’ tablet or cell phone. What can we do to keep our kids from getting hooked on technology?
“We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.”
The dangers of being constantly glued to screens
When we have trouble making a child do something (like eating, for example) we turn to the internet or television. We let him watch some cartoons so that he won’t get upset. It keeps him quiet. Some may ask, if we achieve our goal doing it this way, then what’s wrong with it? The problem is in excesses and dependencies.
So, in this case, it may reach a point where the child will throw a tantrum every time he has to eat unless we put a screen in front of him. He may refuse to eat if he doesn’t have his cartoons on. What can you do now that the remedy is worse than the illness? Herein lies the crux of the matter.
“The remedy is worse than the illness.”
The truth is that improper use of technology can end in children spending hours staring at screens. They will spend less time doing other activities, such as playing with other children, talking to their family members, resting, or studying. Therefore, the quality and quantity of their relationships may significantly decline. They may get completely isolated and lose all social support.
The same thing happens with their grades. They are clearly affected by the lack of time devoted to homework. Finally, as indicated by tantrums, a child’s behavior can get disruptive and problematic. Behavioral disorders may even develop.
“Technology is just a tool. People use tools to improve their lives.”
Parents are the key to change
The key to avoiding all the problems above is in our hands — the parents. At home, we can encourage responsible use of new technology. When they are used in proper measure, new technologies don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. This way, we will encourage little ones to utilize them in a balanced, healthy way.
To get our kids to use it as a source of information, learning, and entertainment, the first thing we have to do is know what our children enjoy. Surfing the internet or playing a video game together will help us connect with them. It will allow parent and child to get to know each other and communicate better. By doing so, we will get to know firsthand what other things they like and dislike.
Likewise, we can propose other activities for them to do in their free time. For example, we could suggest that they read a book on a subject we already know they are especially excited about. This would be more effective than simply urging them to read in general. It’s a good way to motivate them to find new ways of having fun. The same applies with sports or whatever else their interests lead them to.
The rules about new technology
But not only this, we also have to control the time they spend technology. As a guideline, it’s recommended that television use be limited to one hour per day. Video games should be played only 3 or 4 hours per week. Therefore, we as parents must set a schedule for these activities, telling the kids when they can and cannot do them.
As for the locations of televisions, consoles, and computers, it’s better if they are located somewhere that is accessible to everyone, not in the children’s rooms. Then we’ll know which sites they are visiting on the internet and what type of content they’re watching on TV.
It’s important to make sure that it’s appropriate for their age. Plus, we will also be preventing them from isolating themselves from the rest of the family or not getting enough sleep.
Finally, remember that there are all kinds of ways to discipline kids. Positive reinforcement and punishment entail all sorts. In this sense, it’s better if we don’t use new technologies for this purpose. If we do, we’re giving them with an important role in our children’s lives, as well as increasing their levels of anxiety when they don’t have access to them.