This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly series of posts about cool things I’ve found on the Internet, hopefully all on some kind of a theme. We’ll see.
One thing I think every good parent has in common with every other good parent is that we want our kids to be happy, and we want to raise them to be curious about and engaged in the world. These days we and our kids have more opportunities for learning than ever, but they can also cause huge distractions.
I read a post on the New York Times Well blog that says a Kaiser Permanente study found that kids ages eight to ten spend an average of almost eight hours a day with different kinds of electronic media; for teens, it’s more than 11 hours. In China, screen addiction is an official diagnosis, and while it isn’t here, we all know people — and not just kids — who seem to show the symptoms.
But getting rid of tech altogether isn’t really a viable solution. Kids and technology are inseparable; they are going to have computers at school and want to watch TV and interact with other devices. So what’s a parent to do? This list from Becoming Minimalist is a good place to start. The highlights: keep it age-appropriate, model moderation yourself, be mindful of technology as a distraction and teach kids (and remind yourself) that the Internet isn’t real and your self-worth is not defined by “likes” or “friends.”
It’s also great to temper technology with lots of off-screen time doing creative stuff like art and building and, of course, lots of visits to the library and reading. The Huffington Post has a post about encouraging reading in kids who might be a little reluctant, including paying attention to what the kid likes and finding books related to that passion, favorite movie, etc. And again, modeling good behavior by reading yourself is important.
One great way to get kids (and ourselves) away from screens is to spend time doing something special together. While they’re not all really free, this list from Playtivities of 10 surprises for kids that won’t cost you a dime is a good way to start thinking about some thing that might delight your child, no screen or big toy purchase required. They’re mostly on the theme of encouragement and spending extra time with kids, which is really all they want anyway.
And on that note, I leave you with Kid President, who knows what every kid wants from a vacation. Here’s to #wholevacations, milkshake parties, kid-like things and the moments you may not realize are moments, but they totally are to your kids.