Working with and being a student of social media, I live on the computer, my iPhone and laptop. I don’t have a pad..yet. I use twitter, skype, facebook, pinterest, stumbleupon, wordpress, hootsuite, instagram and whatever else I can get my hands on. I am also a mommy gamer. Yep, never let my inner geek child go. Being this connected obviously rubs off on the kids as well.
Most of us are busy parents with smart phones. We are connected, informed and smart. We work more than we should and in all honesty, sometimes the WII or the TV is a life saver. But I have learned a long time ago that it does not and should not replace quality time with our children. Today most children have some sort of electronic (like my niece in this picture with her moms phone) which prompted our school to have an “electric” friday. All students were encouraged to bring their DS, iPad, tablets, phones and whatever else there is. I was actually glad my kids had a DS or they would have went empty handed. Yes, as connected as I am, I am holding my children back. So much that a nurse at the doctors office thanked me. Yes, she thanked me for being old fashioned. She said my 3 kids were the first in months that waited patiently for an hour without any electronics. Which just strengthens my resolve to keep it at a minimum. Don’t get me wrong, I teach my children how to use the computer, research and work it. They get to play educational and sometimes just fun games, but in moderation and with supervision. I truly believe that children need to be educated and learn electronics, it’s the future. But they shouldn’t miss out on being children.
Electronic FREE Zone
Yes, we have electronic free zones in our house. The biggest one is our dining room. There are zero electronics allowed in there. I don’t care if the phone rings, your favorite show is on or anything else. When we sit down at our dining table, it is family time. There is nothing (okay maybe a fire, or something like that) that will disturb our time together. When we sit down, we spend quality time together. We talk about our day, our happy and sad moments, about frustrating things, news, events or are just plain silly. We take time, we don’t rush, we connect. It is so so so very important for families to spend quality time together, undisturbed by outside events. I don’t work when we do this, I don’t answer texts or emails. I just enjoy the time with my family and recharge. Okay I lied. The only electronic allowed at the table is the phone. BUT only to take pictures of silly stuff. AND not always.
Another electronic free zone are bedrooms. It gets a bit tricky but there is only one TV in a bedroom and it is in ours. It hardly ever gets used and I like it that way. I am not talking about stereos, they do have those. Who wouldn’t want good music? But their rooms are there to play in,to be creative, to relax and mellow out. I want to foster their creativity and fantasy, not mindless play.
I am no expert, and I haven’t done studies, but from personal experience I can say that children need to be disconnected. Get back to the basics. Draw with them, craft with them, play with them. The rewards are great for you and your child. Teach them creativity, teamwork, independent thinking, problem solving and how to entertain themselves. Is it easy? No. Is it annoying sometimes and do I want to just say “Fine, go watch TV!” Yes. But I don’t. We have times for that.
Foster the child, foster the inherent curiosity and willingness to learn. Let them express themselves. Help them work through boredom. Play dress up, draw maps, do scavenger hunts, draw with chalk and take pictures, or lay together and tell stories of fairies and pirates.
Read. I cannot stress that enough. Read to your children and have them read to you. Or like my middle one likes to do: Take a book and tell a story the way you see it. Not what is written in the book, but based on pictures, how you believe the story should and could go. Encourage them to read to their stuffed animals or brothers and sisters.
Find what works for you. But please take a moment and reflect on how much time you are connected, your kids are connected and how much that disconnects you as a family. Take another moment and think about times that you can dedicate together. I know it isn’t easy but 1 hr a day can have a huge impact.
Not only do your children love time with you, but you create memories that last a lifetime.
Share your thoughts, experiences and ideas with me. I’d love to chat!