Three Little Seeds of Wisdom to Get Your Child Away from the Screen
It has been fantastic weather these past few weeks making up for a deluge of rain we seem to have been experiencing this summer. Friends have joked that this wet weather came with the launch of my recent picture book Rain Shaker (Big Sky Publishing 2020) and have actually messaged me saying ‘Please ask Erin (my protagonist) to stop her rain dance now! Of course, I’d never demand things of my characters that they’d never do, and I know the young girl in my story only wants to be involved and get active outdoors, planting, growing and learning about the world around her and making a positive difference to it.
However, Erin’s penchant for the outdoors is not for every child and in my education role I often find parents ask me ‘How can I get my child off the computer? How can I reduce their screen time?’ So, with that in mind I thought about what the answer might be and have three little seeds of wisdom to plant in the minds of parents despairing about what they can do to help their child come away from the screen.
- Practice what your Preach.
Before we ask our children to do something it is important to consider whether we are actually modelling behaviour we want them to demonstrate. The other day, whilst enjoying a quiet read on my local beach I saw a young family playing on the sand, or rather the children were playing, whilst their mother was scrolling on her phone with one hand and shoving the little trucks about with her other hand. She was totally unengaged with what her children were doing and the whole scene was rather comical if it weren’t such as sad inditement on how the screen is coming between family relationships. So, consider putting your own devices away and giving your children focused time where they are the priority and when you can be fully present in the time spent together.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone As A Family
Whether it be a family garage clear out, or a lunch out in a different suburb or even giving the mealtime preparation over to the children experiment with ways you as a family can try doing things differently. If you have ever watched the reality shows that challenge contenders to scary and outrageous tasks, you’ll get the idea. You don’t have to swallow crickets, trek through rainforests or balance on bungy ropes but you can try something new as a family team. The excitement, challenge and interest in everyone being involved and having a role to play can be transformational as well as a complete distraction from the usual go to of screens and slobbing on the couch in front of the TV.
- Use the Screen Positively to Bring People Together
The internet is such an amazing resource so do use it to maximise its potential. Find new things to do, look up favourites, create a family dance video make it work for you as a group so that the screen is not merely seen as a solo activity but more of a means of CONNECTING. In this way your child will not be ‘stuck’ in front of the screen but engaged with you, with family and with their communities. This approach will also take the top-down/negative angle of ‘don’t be on your computer’ away and create a positive angle that is far more likely to get your child on side.