Dealing with the ‘Digital babysitters’!

“Every extra minute a child spends on an ipad/tablet is an extra minute lost interacting with the world around him/her-whether it is human interaction or interacting with toys that he/she can manipulate and respond to their touch ”                                                                                     -Developmental Psychologists

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A toddler holding a tablet, a baby holding an i-phone is a sight that we see often nowadays. And it’s just amazing to see them handle modern gadgets with ease just as they handle their feeding bottles/sippers! Puzzles, books, balls are no longer the standard toys among today’s children. They all have been pushed down the ladder by these so called ‘digital babysitters’.

One of the recent researches reveals that touch screens have taken over all the other forms of playful delights for kids. It is still more alarming to know that children are spending almost 7 ½ hours starring at these screens!.

I think this addiction to gadgets is deeply affecting the social and personal skills of our kids. When they spend long hours staring on the screens, they tend to give less concentration on what is happening around them and most of them are missing their essential sleep too. Like the butterfly effect, this sleep deprivation turns them out to be bad-tempered, grudgy and sometimes aggressive too!

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Another important finding is that children who overdo tv/tablets/ipads are nearly twice as likely to suffer from a variety of attention span disorders. It is the action packed, stimulating and rewarding nature of the electronic media that make the kids glued to it. And when they adapt to those speeds, they struggle to pay attention in the slower pace of life (comparatively) because it is less stimulating and rewarding!. This is why, when they put down their gadgets, their brain finds the real-world underwhelming compared to their virtual realms.

Of course yes! I do agree that technology does help young minds to learn a lot of things but we shouldn’t forget that our kids have other skills to master before these shiny gadgets monopolize their lives.

As much as we love technology and the fact that it helps to advance both as an individual and as a society, if not used properly, it can alienate them from others. In extreme cases, it can even hinder our kid’s physical and psychological development. No matter how amazing gadgets may be, they surely cannot substitute for our real world surroundings!

Are these gadgets problems to parents or are they challenges put forth in parenting?

download (3)Rather than looking it as an problem, I think we need to see it as an challenge!. Yes! All of us have this challenge in front of us. As parents, our guidance is crucial in making sure that our kids don’t suffer from gadget fatigue and stress.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean we should completely take off these gadgets from their lives.  As the saying goes, the more we avoid the more the urge to do. They should have the privilege of enjoying the fun but at the same time, we should make them understand that there is time for everything and everything has its own limits.

Let me share my thoughts and personal experience with my kids (a toddler and an 8 year old) in balancing virtual and real world experiences.

  • Get them involved in art and craft activities. Coloring or painting is an easiest way to make them sit. Since I do blogging, when I sit to write, I give them also a piece of paper n pencil, so that they too start scribbling. And that’s how; my 8 year old has picked up interest in writing.
  • Involve them in gardening, watering plants. Make them plant a tree/ flowering plant. This kind of creates an interest in them to get involved in its growth. Since our garden invites lots of birds, we have even kept a bird feeder which has made my daughter to spend time watching birds.
  • Let them play outdoors. If not have a chance to play with peers, riding bicycle or talking a walk makes them refreshing.
  • Introduce them to read books. Inculcating reading habits at an early stage gives them a great source of knowledge, of happiness, of pleasure and even moral courage. Make them understand that reading is more pleasurable than those freaky gadgets!

If these work with my kids, won’t that work with yours too?

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Well, give it a try and get ready to take up the challenge!

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