How to Distract Your Child From Gadgets: Simple Tips for Parents
Modern children are born with a smartphone in their hand. Moreover, if you tell a teenager that at the time when his parents were his age, cell phones didn’t exist, he probably won’t even believe it. For the modern generation, gadgets aren’t only a means of communication but also a way to feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. And this isn’t surprising, because from a young age, tablets with cartoons and game apps in parents’ phones serve as a proven and well working remedy for children’s tantrums in a guest or public place and “background” when a child needs to be fed and refuses to eat.
Over time, regular use of gadgets can lead to dependence on them, resulting in children hardly ever being outdoors, even during the vacations, their eyesight deteriorates and their sleep deteriorates. Even adults who didn’t have smartphones in childhood are always using them for everything from working to playing at the no deposit bonus casino or creating their own art. It’s hard to imagine what will happen when the modern generation grows up. Easy access to any information through a search engine affects the volitional qualities of the child – the illusion of permissiveness contributes to the development of dependence on the phone and other devices with access to the Internet.
Direct restrictions aren’t always effective, and sometimes they only make things worse – children hide from their parents how much time they spend online. And sometimes such measures lead to a loss of trust with the child and the deterioration of the relationship. Simply turning off the Internet or taking away your smartphone, you only upset or annoy your child. What to occupy your child outside of virtual reality?
We have collected for you several ways to solve this problem with an asterisk, as well as general tips on how to wean your child from gadgets.
Why Is It So Hard to Tear Your Child Away From Gadgets, and What Can Help?
Now even a three-year-old successfully copes not only with finding his mother’s favorite game on his smartphone but also with easily playing music or movies on it. The beautiful picture on the screen takes over the attention, and now it’s almost impossible without screaming and crying to get children to clean their room or do homework. The reason for this behavior is the endless stream of entertaining information, which comes without much effort, even the ability to write is no longer needed, save the voice commands. Therefore, to distract the child from this flow of images, it’s necessary to interest him in something.
Psychologists explain children’s quick habituation to bright images on the phone by the tendency of the human, and especially children’s, nervous system to strive for positive emotions. For any child, every new day is a new experience, many things happen to him for the first time, and if these experiences are directly related to gadgets, the chance of addiction increases greatly.
Previously, faced with problems at school or when communicating with friends, children went for advice to their parents. Nowadays, a search engine serves as the first assistant for most, and the fast pace of life and busyness at work sometimes make it hard to notice a child’s need for attention in time.
A good way to maintain contact with your child and be that reference point for him is to be interesting to him. This is achieved by spending time together, often talking about what’s happening in the life of a child, support. And it’s not just about the routine questions about schoolwork and lunch, but a real interest in the life of your son or daughter. You’ll notice how, for example, Sunday afternoon walks in the park or an evening drink over a cup of tea will bring you closer to each other. And if you also share your business and emotions with your child, he will feel that his participation is also important to you. Real communication with a loved one, in which you exchange positive emotions, is much more pleasant and important than any gadgets.
Show Your Example
It’s hard to spend time without looking up and down at your smartphone screen. Work and parent chats keep you busy, even at home. But that’s why it’s crucial that when you do something together with your child, you’re fully engaged in the process.
Watch a movie or cartoon together – put the phone away and turn off the sound. Let the hour and a half or two hours be yours alone. It will be difficult to share emotions from watching, if you spend a good half of the movie in correspondence with a colleague or friend.
This concerns not only the amount of time you dedicate to your child for computer games or chats in instant messengers with friends. For example, agree with all family members that during breakfast, lunch and dinner you leave phones outside the table (preferably in another room) and not be distracted by calls and messages.
If you yourself are used to falling asleep, scrolling through a social networking feed, don’t be surprised that the child will repeat after you. In this case, you can organize a kind of “curfew” for gadgets – at a certain time, say, at 9 pm, all the devices in the house go to sleep. After that time, it’s better not to use them in any case because the brain needs to disconnect from the flow of information and prepare for sleep.
Create an Alternative
Often parents don’t know what to offer their child in exchange for gadgets. It’s desirable that the activity was interesting for him. The more you will tell your child about different hobbies, and even better – show him how great it is, for example, to swim in the pool, dance to fun music, draw a multi-colored giraffe or put a real physical experience, the easier it will be able not just to distract from the screen, but really find a hobby to his liking.
Take children with you to cultural events like concerts and exhibitions, be sure to ask if the child liked what he saw and heard. Don’t forget to share your emotions as well, sometimes your involvement in the process is much more important than the experience.
Respect Your Child’s Opinion
Sometimes the abuse of gadgets can just be a kind of escape from a situation where children don’t feel important and valuable enough in the family. All meaningful decisions (for example, what will be for dinner, where will you go for a walk, what color will be the walls in the nursery and so on) are made by you. In this case, the child may want to feel that something depends on his or her actions, and he or she will enthusiastically play computer role-playing games.
Give the child the right to choose and ask what he thinks, when you discuss family matters. If you are going to make repairs or plan a major purchase in the house, ask your kids if they have a preference. Even if they don’t, it will make them feel more responsible.
Support Your Child’s Initiatives
The most valuable thing is attention. If your son or daughter has decided to learn clay molding or scooter riding, keep him or her company. You can study together the instructions for a new hobby or find out what he or she needs. There are times when its more important for a child to just communicate with you, and gadgets are an attempt to compensate for the lack of communication.
Any activity that the child enjoys will do, so he can feel that you are there and ready to share the joys and challenges. Board games and games for the whole family are great for this purpose.
Has your child heard about something unusual and become interested? Explore the issue together. It’s more fun to learn something together, especially if it’s something you don’t understand right off the bat.
Ask your children, who by the way are often much faster at learning new inventions or programs, to teach you too. This way you will let your child share experiences and discoveries with you, which is important at a young age.
Entrust Your Child With Something Important
This can be some kind of household task: for example, setting the table or clearing the table after a family dinner, watering the flowers or checking that the beds are made. The child will feel his or her independence and understand that there are certain tasks, the result of which depends only on him or her.
Another way to occupy your child’s free time and at the same time teach him how to handle money can be a real job. Think about what he could do for a certain fee. Let it be an activity that is feasible for him or her, with clear criteria for the result. It is better that it should not be something of domestic duties, they should be fulfilled as it is. And additional errands – like going to the store to buy something or clean the car from the snow – is a whole task with its own conditions.
Establish Family Traditions
For example, go to a museum once a week or go camping in the summer. It will be great if you prepare together for this event, discussing the nuances and specifics. And if it requires additional information, finding it with the help of a gadget will be a good way to show that it’s just a tool to achieve another, more important goal.
In the age of video chats and messenger conversations, face-to-face communication is becoming increasingly rare. Invite friends who have children close in age to you, have a theme night, or just give them a chance to socialize. Any holiday can be a good reason to get emotion from live communication, where you can and should be yourself.