I know a lot has been written and said about the effects of digital gadgets on Children’s physical and mental health but we as parents and communities are still weary of shielding them due to the enormous power of connectivity and global knowledge that it has to offer. With educational institutions relying more and more on digital platforms to impart lessons , parents are unable to shrug off the pressure of keeping up with the fast evolving digital culture and thereby exposing children to hours of screen time that can leave them over stimulated ,irritable and sleep deprived. However just a little bit of regulated screen time and incorporating a few holistic habits into our Children’s everyday lives can help us enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution that our kids are lucky to be a part of without the guilt of unattended screen time! Here are 10 simple ideas to get you started right away!
- Me Time : It’s absolutely important to help kids establish a regular ME time. A time to quite the body and mind and just listen to their breath. A quick 2 mins can be a great start and can do wonders! Meditation can sometimes be a heavy word for kids so a simple countdown from 60-1 can equally serve the purpose of slowing down their speeding brains.
2.Nature dips : Regular nature dips are totally profound. Every once in a while gazing at the stars, rolling in the grass , wading in a lake or building a snowman can offer a much more amazing experience than the coolest video game.
3.Age old grandma’s tales : Stories have been a powerful medium of communication since the beginning of time. It has the capacity to transcend religion , race, community, territories, continents ,culture and language more than any other form of communication. The emotions in stories have the power to unite even the most radically different strangers. Why not use it to spark our Children’s imaginations and impart powerful ideas? A little bit of screen time replaced by a family story time can also be a beautiful way to bond!
- Everyday scavenger hunt : One of the biggest complaints about digital gadgets is the ease with which people get sucked into it thereby becoming totally indifferent towards the world around them. If you don’t want your kids to text you across the table asking you to pass the salad ,then developing their observational skills and mindfulness can go a long way. A simple game of everyday scavenger hunt can be a simple and fun way to do that. It’s as simple as, find 10 blue objects in the house or think of five things that start with the letter ‘T’ in your room. The variations are endless!
- Digital fast :We all get a weekly break from work and school during weekends. Our bodies and minds get a break to replenish and recharge at night . So why not our gadgets? A weekly (okay! I can hear you all screaming “Whaaat!” ) or monthly digital fast can increase your productivity to a surprising amount. At the least it can help you gain a sense of who is the master of whom. Are you in charge of your gadget or by any chance have you turned into its slave? It’s very important to model this rather than preach it to kids.
- Creative immersion :The best way to teach our kids to be in touch with their true selves and not just their gadgets is through their creativity. Unlike what people used to think, everyone is born creative and nurturing it to its optimum levels is in our hands. The pre digital era had kids indulging in coin collection, stamp collection and a variety of similar hobbies. So what’s stopping them now? Encouraging kids to pursue a hobby is never an obsolete idea! music, dance, painting, rock collections, reading poetry, writing a story, making a greeting card, photographing nature, building Lego models, helping your community in the tiniest way like picking up garbage and disposing it appropriately can all have an immensely satisfying effect. To pick a hobby, only your imagination is the limit. Don’t tell me you can’t think of even one! If you really can’t, then its high time you start thinking!
- Human connections: The world-wide web has undoubtedly connected the farthest people from across continents with the click of a button. Social networks and apps have totally transformed the way in which we socialize. A one stop destination to keep up with the happenings in the life of everyone is definitely convenient , but picking up the phone to call our best friend or family for no reason is a much better way to have an emotional connection. After all aren’t we humans creatures of emotion? All the love and hate around us are due to our pent-up emotions. So isn’t it important for us to teach our children the value of human connections? If you don’t want to receive a happy birthday text from your son on your 60th birthday, then the next time ,instead of wishing your parents for their anniversary on Facebook, pick up the phone and call, or better yet, give them a surprise visit! However powerful it may be, the world wide web can never convey the warmth of a hug.
- Traditional game nights : Game nights can be more than watching a sport on T.V with family and friends or entering a virtual world with Xbox .Introducing board games into family fun activities can be an effortless way of instilling sportsman spirit , patience and most importantly fun into the family. Dumb charades , I spy and word games are great opportunities to have eye contact ,face to face conversations and bonding. Games like chess ,snake and ladders , scrabble etc.. have the added benefit of enhancing the mind and imparting educational skills to kids.
- Life skills : If our kids end up as 40-year-old adolescents capable of coding, yet clueless about how to fix their dinner, then we have royally missed out on an integral aspect of parenting and that is ,to impart life skills to our children. More screen time is resulting in less time spent to learn critical surviving skills. Life skills are not confined to just doing chores around the house. It extends to every aspect of our life in order to lead a happy and successful life, like maintaining a fit body , happy and positive mental attitude, tolerant and empathetic social skills, respect and love in relationships , money skills , giving back to society , time management and organizational skills and of course house skills like fixing dinner, doing the laundry etc. The simplest way to do this is to just include kids in our everyday life. Model, explain and include them in age appropriate tasks pertaining to all these aspects without judgment and with tons of patience.
- Family projects : Finally, one last tip to get this party rolling! We all talk about how Television and various other gadgets of the screen family have been the main cause for the need of instant gratification among our kids and hence the need to teach the valuable lesson of perseverance! What better way than to do a family project? Start a project that the entire family is part of. It could be as simple as doing a simple DIY project at home to learning a new skill or language together. Coming up with a list of loved ones and making & mailing greeting cards during your favorite festive season could be the simplest way to start for little ones.
Whether you choose to try out all or just some of these tips , be sure to make time for life! Or it might just pass you by while you are busy updating your status! I know I have talked in detail about few of the things in this list in my previous posts , but a quick recap with a few extra nuggets thrown in could be a great reminder!I need them too from time to time :)And dont forget, I would love your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Image courtesy :Pixabay