In the modern day, many of us are engrossed in social media and we are worried that gadgets will take over lives of young children, children should connect with people and we shouldn’t raise them to be entitled kids. Now that technology is so advanced, you cannot stop your child from wanting to surf the net.
Michelle Lichauco-Tambunting, co-founder, and directress of Young Creative Minds Preschool shared a few valuable and practical tips that she uses on her two sons and will help parents out.
1. Don’t fight screens
Michelle encourages parents to learn how to best work with gadgets and devices, not against them because we live in the digital age. It’s a reality and it’s a tool that’s necessary. “If there’s something my 9-year-old son doesn’t know, the first thing he does is do a search for it online. We are living in a digital age that’s just going to get complex and complicated. If I stop him from it, mahuhuli siya,” says Michelle.
2. Monitor your screen-time use
As parents, we model so much for our children unconsciously, therefore, we must first show an example to the kids that we need to connect with them. When we’re in front of screens, our kids feels disconnected from us, so when you’re in the car with your kids, set aside your phone. The emails and the instagram feed can wait, make an effort for your children. If we want the digital world to work for us, we all need to learn to control it.
3. Let the gadget be your last defense
When a child isn’t sitting still and is very noisy, sure the gadgets would be the easiest thing to go for but remember you can do the same using other items too! Teach kids that there are other things they can play with but have these gadgets with you by all means. Keep the gadgets and screens to be your last defense.
Michelle has a special needs son, and she has a strategy when out of the house, “I take a plastic envelope filled with crayons and paper. He likes stickers and tape, so I have that there also. I have it with me when we go to a restaurant or if we’re in the car or on a plane. I bring it first — that’s my secret weapon. I have my phone and the tablet, but I try not to let it get to that point,” she shares.
Another tip is to bring three books instead of one. If the first book turns out to be boring, then you have the second and third. Your child will learn to know that there are other things other than the gadgets and screens that could keep him entertained and busy.
4. Discuss the rules
You could set up rules with the older kids about gadget use. Michelle shares her conversation with her 9-year-old, “We understand that you need to be on the Internet. But your brain gets sick with too much screen-time.” Then talk about the rules, write them down and sign the paper as an agreement. Include your child in the decision-making process so they won’t feel like you’re being unfair, this is very important as a parent-child communication.
With the written and signed agreement will make it easier for parents, when your child complains about his screen-time, remind him that you talked about the rules and that he agreed with them. Michelle said that her son has 30 minutes of free screen-time use, and it is up to him whether he wants to use it all in one go or break it down to 15 minutes each, one for now and another for later.
5. Reserve a screen-free time for the whole family
Sundays are family day for many families so why not make the whole day gadget and screen free to be with each other? Yes, even the grown-ups. it will be hard sometimes, but you need to stay connected the each other, so do it for the family!
Good luck to all parents!