They love to spend time in front of a screen because it is appealing and entertaining, and let’s face it, so do we. But instead of demonising screens, our challenge is to offer alternatives to being plugged in, to balance out time with tablets or mobiles with other moments that let us experience the real world. Though sometimes this can become a Herculean task.
If we want kids to have fun with their friends, play sport, read books or want to spend all day in the swimming pool we need to get to work. But let’s not go overboard! We’ll take it step by step. Technology has its benefits when used in moderation, so we need to cut down on how much they use it and teach them to try out other forms of play that draw out their creativity and let them engage with other children and family members.
Now you’re thinking… Sure, it all sounds great, but I don’t even know where to start. We know it’s no easy task and that it will take some time to adapt to this change. At first they will throw quite a few tantrums before discovering all the adventures that await them. You’ll see that once they discover their favourite game they won’t even remember the tablet or phone! At Imaginarium we believe that it is important for children to rediscover this other way of playing and letting their imagination soar. So here are 5 keys to encouraging other types of play so they can enjoy the real world to the fullest:
– Try to avoid associating certain moments of the day with using these devices, like lunch time, snack time or bath time. If we get them used to always eating in front of the telly or the tablet, for instance, we are giving them good reason to ask for these devices every time they eat. It’s better to start up a conversation and share time with them, making meal time a fun moment together for the family.
– Offer alternatives for “unsupervised” entertainment. We all know that sometimes when we are very busy or tired, mobiles, the telly and video games are a very convenient way for them to entertain themselves. Once in a while parents need a break to take care of something that has come up or simply to rest, and digital devices often come to the aid. But we shouldn’t give into the temptation more than necessary. Instead, we can invent little games or crafts that can fill this function, like making beaded bracelets, playing with fun stickers, drawing on a whiteboard…
– Ration their technology time in a way they understand. For instance, they can only use the tablet after dinner, or on weekends, or while you are making dinner. This will help them clearly understand when they can use these devices, and most importantly when they can’t.
– Set an example. If we are constantly looking at our mobile we can’t expect them not to turn to technology when they get a chance. So even though it will take a bit of effort, we must control ourselves and not use them during meals or when we are playing or chatting with them.
– Explain the problems that can come from overuse. You should tailor these conversations to their age, but if we start explaining this clearly at a young age they will be much more aware and responsible. Because, frankly, nobody wants to isolate themselves or not make friends, or not be as strong running or playing outdoors, or not learn new things from books.
You’re sure to have some other tricks that you use with your children, and we’d love to hear them! If you’d like to share them with us, use the hashtag #Imaginariumdesenchufalos on social networks.
Discovering a world of possibilities to experience together, that’s the real fun!