Aren’t you concerned with how much time your children stay on-line or use their gadgets? I am. Using laptops, tablets, smartphones or watching TV is a part of a daily ritual for every kid today and my son is not an exception. Being a mother of a 10-year-old boy I was hesitant if there are good reasons for concern or not. I have surfed the Internet looking for some statistics and here is what I have found: estimated weekly hours of internet consumption by children aged 12-15 have increased from 13.7 to 18.9 hours a day over the time span of eight years. Such tendency proves that media is penetrating into children’s lives more and more every year. It is becoming more difficult to draw a line between using media for fun and for studies. Thus, I have made up a list of 5 easy steps to a healthy media diet for a child.
Step 1: Set limits:
Don’t count time that your kids spend in front of a screen every day. Ideally you want to strike a balance for the whole week. Plan together with your kids and listen to what they like to do and what they have to do with the help of some gadgets. Allot time for schoolwork, watching a film, gaming etc. Sign a Media Agreement and seal all your mutual arrangements. In order not to cause any inconvenience for your children better start setting limits when they are young.
Step 2: Set a good example:
These are you – parents who influence your children greatly. By using media too much you set a bad example for your kids. Put aside your mobile phone and laptop when you are eating. Switch off your computer and spend some time in peace and quiet. Minimize all distractions: delete all apps that you think take most of your time, mute your phone when you want to have some family time, shut down the TV when you have a conversation with somebody. Put limits between work and your private time. Stop sharing stuff on your social profiles and give your kids a chance to understand that it’s not important for you. Read books, do sport and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Step 3: Communicate more:
A good discussion and exchanging opinions with your children will not only enhance your relationships, but also will give you a chance to reveal your kids’ fears, likes and dislikes. Ask your kids what are their favorite games and movies. Find out what is important for your children. Share your values, too.
Step 4: Make a media-free zone:
Our lives are flooded with media and gadgets. We hear vibration of mobile phones everywhere, incoming calls are bombarding all the time. Most of invaluable family moments are interrupted by technology and media. Be strict and establish rules. For example:
- No mobile phones during breakfast/dinner;
- No TV while speaking to somebody;
- No social media during homework and at school etc.
Step 5: Find a good substitute:
Find something that will replace media and gadgets. For instance, choose books that your kids will definitely enjoy reading, enroll kids into a language course or ask if they would like to take up some sports. Invite their friends to stay over or finally throw a small party for children. Who wouldn’t like the idea of having fun with their peers? Positive emotions we get from live communication are a far cry from on-line chatting and messaging.
All in all, there is no need in being too strict or rejecting something. A key secret to a healthy media diet is good communication with your children and understanding of what is important for them. Be a role model and eliminate distractions. Set some rules and replace a screen-time with some other activities. That way you will not spoil relationships with your kids but will make their childhood the same bright and vibrant as, say, you or your parents had.
Guest Blog by Jessica Mcneil
Jessica is a loving mother, passionate reader of classic literature and a writer for Writers-House.com. She enjoys exploring the world by travelling. When she is not catering for her black cat, she listens to some folk music.
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