We are in a world full of gadgets and technology that we forget to look up to whoever is talking to us or look around us to discover what the world has to offer in real life and not in digital life. As adults, we are guilty of this but we are fortunate because most of us, parents, were not born into a world already filled with social media feeds, online gaming and internet messengers.
In fact, for most of us, our first phone is not a smartphone but rather a Motorola flip phone and the phone our parents used to have were Nokia phones which we could only use to call, text, bounce a basketball or feed a snake within a border.
However, for children nowadays, it is completely different. From the get-go, they are introduced to functions on a phone, laptop or tablet which we might not know how to operate ourselves. Despite the many positive attributes that come with being online, there have been many studies that show that being exposed to the internet at a young age will have an adverse effect on children.
Hence, we are listing a few ways that can help your child be less addicted to mobile phones and more attentive to their surroundings.
According to this blog, there are 7 steps you can take to make sure that your child spends less time playing with technological gadgets or their handphones and more time exploring the real world. The more time they spend virtually, the lesser time they would spend on homework or revision or playing outside in playgrounds or being sporty or reading books.
Step 1: Have a Family Meeting to Discuss the Plan
The agenda for this meeting is to discuss what works well for everyone in the family. Be honest and let them know why you need to be on your laptop for a certain number of hours and hear their inputs as well. Ask them why do they need to use their phones at certain times of the day and how together, you can cut down on the amount of time you spend on gadgets such as television and tablets. The idea of the meeting is to not spring upon them this sudden rule of change. They have to be eased into it as well.
Step 2: Set a Date to Start New Schedule
After deciding on the limit of the number of hours each can spend on their mobile phones, tell them when will the entire family launch into this new regime. The number of hours varies for each family because each family’s priorities are different. It also differs for children of different ages. Hence, the number of hours is up to you to customise but pick a date so that everyone can get on the same page and start embarking on the journey together.
Step 3: Make a list of things to do – in real life
Going to a museum is one thing that you and your children can do together. Not only that, playing badminton can be a family outing as well. Going on a picnic would be fun as well. Basically, activities that prevent you from reaching out for your phone should be done as a family. Going to the library or sitting in the living room, reading books together instead of watching TV or Youtube is healthy as well.
Step 4: Keep the devices somewhere they cannot be seen
If you have a storeroom, keep it on the top shelf. If you have high kitchen drawers, keep them there. The idea is to hide the gadgets such that your child cannot find them or reach them. There might be a bit of a backlash but that is why they need to know why you are doing this and why you think that this is the right decision. Also, you must be committed too. You should not be seen with your gadgets too. More on this in Step 6.
Step 5: Help your children play and interact with one another without technology
Indoor activities may include playing board games, painting, and writing and if your children are active, a pillow fight might get them to be less bored. Having a childhood means being messy at times and making mistakes. Teach them how to rollerblade or ride a bike and visit the swimming pools. If you have a pet, taking them out for a walk or just playing with them at home works as well.
Step 6: Be a role model to your children
You should set an example and maybe that means sacrificing your Korean drama or not replying to your colleagues’ messages after working hours. Many a time, we forget what family is all about because we are chasing after the physical, tangible things. Talk to your spouse and talk to your children to get to know them better. After all, what is family all about but friendship and communication?
Step 7: Create alternative routines so that the children and yourself remain disconnected from digital devices
The most difficult thing about a habit is making it one and doing it continuously. In the beginning, do not set unrealistic expectations and plan for something that can be achieved so that it can be sustained. Challenge yourselves to create myriad ways to keep the addiction to screens at bay and indulge in what real life has to offer. Engage your children in activities which benefit them like colouring for preschoolers than watching a digital cartoon show. If you find it hard to keep at it, do not be so hard on yourself or your children. Give each other a little bit of slack before picking it up again.
Our Learning Lodge is a PSLE tuition centre that caters to students from different schools, backgrounds and standards. We are situated at Block 813 Jurong West Street 81 #B1-184 Singapore 640813 and you can contact us via WhatsApp (+65 9727 2203), Facebook or Instagram if you are looking for a tuition centre for your Secondary 1 and Primary school child.