How plugged in are your kids?
Plugged In is screen time – tv, dvds, iphones, computers, ipads, gaming – it often seems the easy option, a quick babysitter/entertainer, it helps kids to relax and wind down after school, sport or homework. But it also limits your childs ability to play creatively and use their imagination. A life without imagination and creativity is sadly lacking.
Here’s a challenge, add up the amount of hours your kid spends ‘plugged in’ each day for a week – then add them all together….. surprised? If you are - then here is some tips to help you find a balance.
It is never too late to swap screen time for other activities, sure your kids are likely to protest, just like eating an apple instead of an apple cereal bar – but persist for a couple of weeks and changes certainly will happen. Did you know that even having a tv on in the background affects children’s concentration? It sure does. So aim to turn that tv off when the show you are watching is finished. Pick and choose educational shows for your kids, ones where they learn something, and this is just as interesting as other entertainment.
Now what to avoid? Avoid the news, nothing but bad news is usually the go, and very graphic. Avoid any show that has scary images or sad images – even if they are not upset at the time, come nightime and lying down in the darkness, their brain replays what they have seen and those images are very upsetting. So forget the news, tape it or miss it altogether - it’s way too scary for kids.
Avoid violent images – kids learn through watching and imitation, they will repeat whatever they have seen on the tv. Be careful of tv heros who use violence to win, this includes cartoons and action heroes. Choose the ABC2 station that has little or no advertising, kids believe the ads and are convinced that they need, desire or want the product!
One final piece of advice when it comes to tweens or teenage girls, forget the music videos. Our daughters are way to vulnerable emotionally about how they see themselves and their confidence and their looks to be influenced by music videos. The sexiness, the fashion, the dancing all affect our daughters. Limit the amount of ‘plugged in’ time to about 1 hour for kids 2 years upwards, 2 hours maximum. If your total was more then it’s time to ‘unplug’ and find alternatives like books, puzzles, games, and imagination.