Time flies when you are watching the telly or just surfing on the internet! If adults suffer from this problem, how much more our kids?
One of the greatest challenges that Parents face is having enough time with the kids. After a busy day at work, it is easy to be at home with the kids but not spending time with them. The TV is switched on, the laptop is running, and the smart phone is beeping. Sometimes we are home but not at home!
As a father of 3 kids, I have been guilty of leaving the kids to their own devices, and just letting the telly become their baby sitter. It is definitely more convenient, but after some serious consideration, recently we just put a security code on our telly. With this restriction on “TV time”, the kids have greatly benefitted!
Needless to say, to kids had some initial “withdrawal” symptoms, but after the first week, they have learned to adapt. Now, they are taking out their old toys, and playing more with each other!
However, Good and Effective Parenting does not stop there! In this digital age, it is a foregone conclusion that kids are getting more and more media savvy. Boundaries are great and essential for development, but it has to come with Parental Involvement.
Whether or not your kids find out about Facebook today or tomorrow, we need to be involved with the kids. As much as possible, we need to be with our kids while they are watching, surfing, gaming or reading, we have to teach our children to be smart consumers.
Here are a few quick tips for Parents:
1. Conversation Starter – Avoid Lecturing the kids.
All of us have tons of stories of our mothers lecturing us over the telly, and over every media device that came into our hands. Instead, exert your influence in a subtle way, by asking guided questions. As you watch, surf and update your status, let them know about your how you feel towards technology issues, and use it as a tool to tactfully impart family values.
2. Role Modeling
Children are always silent and quick observers. They watch our daily habits, and they pretty much grow up learning from us. Unfortunately, kids learn the good and the bad, and therefore it is difficult to restrict Internet or TV time, when we are also always staring at computer screens every day.
If we want to have decent conversations with our kids, we have to actively put down our mobile phones at the dinner table and engage our spouses as well.
3. Balance is the Key
A healthy diet is always essential. Rather than debating with your partner whether 13 is an acceptable age to start a Facebook account, focus your energies on how you can set effective boundaries and enforce them. If one can effectively teach in a fun but safe way, the repercussions of a reckless status update, the lessons learnt will definitely be more beneficial than any other negative enforcement. Couple that with a healthy social life involving the outdoors, kids will grow up with a healthy disposition.
The best thing about Parenting is that kids always look up to their parents. Even though, some kids may find it difficult to express their desire for parental involvement, that inward desire for our involvement is always real. It is this need for a Parental figure that ensures that “We are never too late!”
This article was first published as a contribution by ED Unloaded to the Media Literacy Council .