Imagine a child in the 1990s. He is woken up by his mother and gets ready to go to school. He is talking about the Walkman his US cousin got with his friend and scratches his knee in the school playground. On his ride back home, he anticipates his daily dose of Swat Kats or Scooby Doo and rushes to play again with his friends before having a meal over a conversation about his day and dozing off.
Fast forward to today where an alarm clock mostly on a phone wakes him up. Before taking
a bath he needs to know the score of yesterdays match; so he promptly takes one his parents’ phone and opens Google. As soon as he gets in and out of the school bus the parents receive a notification on their phones that the child is dropped. At recess, while discussing the latest level in PUBG with his friend he falls off and scratches his knee. He rushes home to make the most of his PS5-day. At dinner, he teaches his grandpa to send videos on WhatsApp to his cousin in America before going to sleep. Only this time, mom does have Google to search for the life-altering dangers of a scathed knee.
Technology has made life easier and happier in ways that kid in the ‘90s could never have imagined. So, let’s look at some ways parents can help their kids cultivate a positive relationship with technology without losing their sanity. ;)
1. “Do I know enough?”
Most parents, especially ones who don’t happen to have a technology background are astonished by their child’s technical prowess and their ability to deal operate it. While it is commendable that kids are quite smart, it helps to learn about the platforms they use and the games they play when they are not around. This will not only give you a comfort level on what they’re involved with but also educate you about the risks if any. After all, how can you manage something that is unknown to you? Go, play some Minecraft for yourself!
2. Sharing is caring
This brings us to the next point which is about having open conversations with them. Now that we are equipped with the knowledge, let them know you’re interested, that you are curious. Dismissing conversations about things that make them excited is the sure-shot way of making sure they don’t share information with you. Imagine the look on your child’s face when you speak features your latest Android version or how COC may be better than WOW. Children share very generously and it can be for their own
good when done correctly.
3. Now, go offline
Getting to know and developing what interests them can play a huge role. Lavitha, an experienced educator, and her sister were brainstorming about ways to get her niece the optimum level of technology use. After tons of research, they decided to explore all sorts of activities right from painting to sports. They found out her niece had a natural talent for dancing. “Identifying their hobby and nurturing them at a young age will develop their emotional intelligence as they grow up. They would make a conscious choice to turn towards a hobby than online to release stress.”, says Lavitha.
4. Holier than thou
Kids learn more from modeling behaviors than being told what to do. Seeing adults use technology responsibly and stick to your own rules will motivate them to be responsible about it, too. It is important to have a conversation with all family members about technology use, especially if it is a joint family. Some of the common practices include:
• A calendar you mark the days with a smiley/star where they have adhered to screen time (positive reinforcement)
• Planning a fun family activity like a 3D movie (so they know you’re not against technology)
5. Good exposure
Access to good, educational content is an immense advantage no generation before this has had. There are a range of healthy technology solutions that not only help in the 360-degree development of a child but also address gaps in learning if any. Did you know there is an app called YouTube Kids which has exclusive kids' videos? Duolingo can be used to learn any foreign language. Another tablet-only app called Science360 enables students to view 3D models of various science experiments. At MindChamp, we help kids develop 21st-century skills like logic and problem solving through computer coding.
Every kid is unique and nothing or anything can work for them. If their behavior is extremely cranky or resentful if you curb device use, it is best to show it to an expert as it might be a part of a larger problem.
Explore some of these in the next few days and share this for the benefit of family and friends! Stay tuned for the next part which covers biggies like peer pressure and cyber safety.
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