Due to the pandemic, many schools have turned towards digital learning and other world-class online resources for educating students. This is an applaudable effort that bridges the gap between students and teachers while they are out of school. But the digital age comes with its own fears and concerns, one of which is raising kids and teens who are responsible and mindful of what the digital world entails.
Oftentimes, the gadgets and digital devices we buy for our children take away that one-on-one conversation or relationship that we want to have with them. They, rather, want to play games, chat on social media than have conversations with us. This makes it a herculean task to connect with them when screen time seems to be a priority for them.
Here are a few tips to help you connect with your children in the digital age:
Restrict Their Screen Time
Placing some restrictions on children’s screen time early enough is the first step to getting them to connect with the outside world.
You can set a time for games or smartphones, like 3 hours daily. Do not encourage devices during lunch, dinner, or at events. In addition, look for activities to replace screen time – like family time, regular playtime, and reading time at home – that will help in the overall development of the kids. All these would ensure that they are not dependent on their devices.
Take interest in what they like
You can connect with them by joining in the fun. Take an interest in their favourite shows, games and even surf their favourite websites with them, you can turn these activities into mummy and me time. This gives you an idea of what your child is up to online.
Have regular face-to-face conversations with your kids
From a very young age, encourage your kids to have face-to-face conversations. Have meaningful or fun conversations with your child, it will encourage them to connect with others outside screen time. Above al, make sure you are available when your child needs to talk to you face-to-face.
Practice what you preach
As parents, we must understand that children learn more from what they see than what they are taught, so it is extremely important that we lead by example. Parents are considered to be the first teachers of kids, you need to make sure that you are a good role model for your kids. Limit your own social media use especially when you’re home, this is a very effective technique when you want your kids to connect with you.
Plan fun activities for your family
If your children are not occupied, they are going to turn to their screens to keep them engaged. It is important to plan fun activities for your family at least once a week, such as baking, visiting friends, DIY skills, etc. During this time, everyone including you should put away their devices and only using their phones for emergencies and taking photos.
Do not use mobile phones as an emotional pacifier for your kids
When your kids throw a tantrum, you might want to resort to giving them your smartphone to calm them down or pacify them. This is not a good idea. Many parents fail to understand that doing this will become more of a problem in the long run than a solution. Your kids may end up becoming too attached to their phones or digital gadgets and may be unable to get anything done.
Educate them about the internet
Use parental controls for your younger child’s device to prevent them from doing anything other than their approved games and educational shows. For pre-teens and teens who are just starting to explore the Internet, let them know that not everything on the internet is private, despite the settings, and teach them to be careful about what they watch online. In addition, they must be wary about sharing sensitive information with other people online.
Finally, try to balance keeping your kids happy and safe, and keeping up with their current interests and hobbies. This will give you the opportunity to connect through the screen and face-to-face with your kids.
Over to you, parents, how do you connect with your kids in this digital age?