By Denise Mersmann
Over the next week, our daylight time grows shorter by about 15 minutes. Less daylight often brings with it less time outside and requests from our kids for more “screen time” to provide entertainment.
The thought of more screen time can create concerns for parents including kids not getting enough exercise and fresh air, kids focusing on screens and not engaging with people and the possibility that kids will come across content that is not appropriate.
So how do we ensure that our kid’s tech time is a blessing for them and our families? With a little advance planning and research you can create a technology environment that it is beneficial to everyone.
Before you hand over those tablets, laptops and smart phones and settle in front of the fireplace, think about what most concerns you about your family’s use of technology. Once you have determined what your concerns are, you can establish guidelines that will ensure positive results. Making your screen rules specific and easy to understand will increase the likelihood that they will be remembered and followed. When you are comfortable with your screen rules, go over each of them with your family. This is also a good time to outline consequences if the rules are not followed.
With rules in place, you can now shift your focus to how you can actually utilize technology as a solution to some winter woes. With over 1.5 million apps to choose from, taking a few minutes to research what is available and add some new options to your family’s app library can be time well spent.
There are a lot of great apps that encourage physical activity and exercise. Those can help keep kids and adults moving and even introduce fun new ways to stay in shape. As a family, setting aside some time every day to practice yoga or try zumba dance helps everyone burn some calories and enjoy some fun time together. And, if you dance like I do, your kids will reap the benefits of a really good laugh!
Incorporating educational game apps can help your kids learn without them realizing they are actually not just playing! Look for apps that allow multiple players at one time to encourage some interaction and prevent kids from isolating with the screen and shutting out other people.
Another fun option is to use technology to encourage our creativity. There are many music and art apps that allow us to paint, draw or compose our own masterpiece. Creative apps can be great for combined projects teaching kids how to share, comprise and work as a team.
Technology is a huge part of each of our lives and we can’t escape it. We can, with a little planning and effort, utilize it as a tool to benefit our entire family!