Single parents, and all parents for that matter, these days are facing a seemingly unwinnable battle. Mobile phones, TV, computers, games consoles and a million other digital devices which surround our kids and absorb all of their attention – they’re inescapable.
This generation is used to having these devices around, they expect digital gadgets for Christmas and all of their friends have them, so how on earth does the single parent manage to prise their kids away from these devices and out into the fresh air?
For many people, a childhood should be about imagination, play and movement, with kids getting out into the fresh air to play, explore and socialise. With the new way to ‘play’ being on a tablet or a games console, immobile in a dark room, our kids could be missing out on vital experiences which help them grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.
Weaning your kids off electronics
If you’re concerned that your kids are spending too much time staring goggle-eyed at screens, here are 4 tips to help you break the pattern and introduce a new, healthier lifestyle:
1. Enforce ‘time-outs’.
This isn’t a complete clampdown on electronics use, but a good way of managing it. The child still feels that they can use tablets and video games, but only for a set amount of time. These clear boundaries – such as one hour of TV/games after dinner, once homework has been done – limit the time spent on electronic devices, but without causing an outright rebellion.
2. Engage your child to help them understand your viewpoint.
If you set a blanket ‘no video games and no smartphones’ rule, you could end up forcing your child over to friend’s houses where they are free of restrictions and can play video games for hours on end. Instead, try to get your child on-board to understand why they need more balance in their life. Ask them to note down the amount of their free time they spend on electronics in a week, then talk about the other things they could be doing with this time. It’s likely that they’ll be surprised at the figures and might start to understand your point of view.
3. Arrange alternative activities.
If your children are bored, they are bound to turn to the easy form of entertainment that is TV or video games. Do the thinking and planning for them, arranging activities and fun things for them to do, and include their friends to make your plans more appealing. You could also plan a long-term project, of your child’s choosing, that should absorb their attention for a while.
4. Accept that electronics will always be a part of their life.
Unfortunately, you can’t pretend that the digital revolution hasn’t happened, or that it will go away any time soon. Digital and electronic devices will always be a part of your child’s life, but you need to help them find a healthy balance.
Hopefully, these tips should at least limit the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices, but each single parent will have their own methods. Experiment a little and see what works for you and your child – then share your secret with the rest of us!