We’ve all been there. Even adults have been hit by the i-storm, but who cares about adults; they can take care of themselves. We care about the future generation, the children of the technological era.
The first tip, for those who have not yet raised little iAddicts, is not to view technology as all negative. Just like all behaviors, we must break long-term goals into short steps towards the longterm goal. Let’s do that with technology as well. Ask yourself; do I want my child, as an adult, not to use the Ipad at all? Do I want my daughter not to learn to maneuver her laptop when she’s in college? Would I want my 40-year-old son to be shy away from everything “ advanced” because “ he’s too old to learn this stuff at this age?”
Most probably not.
What we DO want is for our children to use these platforms as methods of:
Fine motor skills
Discovering new interests
Sharing ideas with the world
What we don’t want:
Replacement of face to face communication
Hindering of creative play
barrier to social skills development
So let’s start at the BASE:
Children enjoy their screen time because of all the colours, sounds, and predictability that comes along with it. Another reason, of course, is the games and the “level up” reinforcement. Here what you can do to keep the best of both worlds.
Teach and encourage appropriate usage:
Instead of forbidding the Ipad completely, try to limit the amount of “mind-less” games, and pair the Ipad as the “Thing we go to when we want to learn cool stuff”. If your child asks you a question, that’s an excellent opportunity to open up YouTube and show him videos of what a “ volcano” is. Living abroad and missing grandma? Let use the Ipad to call her. Want to take a picture of mommy, use the iPhone’s camera, and learn about making memories.
Use it for quality time, and learning opportunities:
There are some amazing social Apps that you can use together. Read a story on Four Little Cornersor MotherGooseand discuss the characters, print worksheets as practice skills in real life with KidsAcademy. There are many great puzzle apps for motor skills on there too. The options are endless. Show the child all the positive ways you can use technology, and encourage these ways.
For all the parents out there who are reading this little too late, and the child is already addicted to the 90th level of Candy Crush, 3 words for you: “ never.too.late”, also: “must.be.patient.”
Set clear concrete rules:
This is challenging but necessary. Saying “don’t play too much on your Ipad” is as good as saying “balblablbal Ipad”. What does TOO MUCH really mean? For you it might be 1 hour, for them it’s most probably 24 hours. Use timers, alarms, or signals to prepare the child for getting off the Ipad, and telling him EXACTLY how much is too much. This would help take the control out of the parent’s hands and into the hands of time and rules.
Make its use as a reward for completing less preferred activities:
The Ipad can be a great end to a successful homework completion, or finishing up the chores, with a limited time of course. Some older children, like adults, are now using their phone for socialising with their friends. This can get time-consuming and interfere with other learning and discovery opportunities.
Start by modelling and try to give up the phone yourself:
Give attention to the children, get down on the floor, and play with them, leaving your phone behind for this quality time. Take it a step further and make everyone (including daddy the workaholic) to give u the phone for family meal times. Organise your conversations by using some common family conversation starters instead of asking “how was your day?” and getting a “ its was fine” answer.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS…
Foster trust and keeping promises:
the app gods don’t agree and they have therefore created apps for monitoring and controlling the child’s Ipad or iPhone from the mothers Ipad or iPhone. With apps like Glued or Our Pact or Screenlimit you can control when your child can use the devices, for how long, and under what condition. Please leave this as last resort, if all else fails. Reinforce the child for compliance, and encourage creative play by being involved in it.
Research suggests that a limit of 2 (some say 1) hours per day for children above 2 years old; under 18 month it is not recommended. However, a more recent approach has been looking into the quality of the time spent on the screen, rather than focusing on the quantity of time.
APPS THAT ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND PHYSICAL PLAY:
Draw and Tell: A child’s storytelling dream comes true. This app allows the child to navigate through endless options of colours and stickers, make up their own story, and record their voice. An extra bonus point for getting your child to read the story to you or his/her friends after it’s completed.
Friendstrip: For older kids 7 and above, Friendstrip is an excellent app that fosters creativity, storytelling, and social skills. Strike a pose, add your picture to your choice of comic strip from an extensive library, and share your personalized story. How stuff Works: Just like the adult version on discovery channel, How it Work is a wonderful app that lets your child discover how everyday things like cars and vacuum cleaners look like on the inside, how the operate, and the different parts that make them up. This app will definitely tap into your child’s curiosity and encourage little engineers to get busy learning. Super Stretch Yoga: Just like the name suggests, this app makes yoga, simple, fun, and funky just for kids. Get them hooked on showing you what they learned, and encourage the use of this app by attending to it and reinforcing new skills learned. Only available on Ipad Four Little Corners:Part storybook, part interactive play. This app is great for read-aloud, conversation and understands each other’s feelings.