To be a parent in 2016 is no easy feat in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment. Spending enough time with their child is a challenge. But then, with the help of technology — smartphones and other gadgets — everything is just a click away!
Simple, quick, and efficient.
Don’t you agree?
I would be the first to agree that technology is a blessing in disguise for parents. But is it the same for a child?
I did not grow up with technology. In fact, the first time I used a computer was in 1996 and then, all it had was dBase, a spreadsheet program where I could maintain client contact databases. I “met” the internet only in and even then, it was just email and a couple of instant messaging programs. Nothing like what we experience today!
With one desktop computer at home, naturally, my son was fascinated with all things digital, and of course, he understood and figured out how things worked far quicker than I did. He started his blog when he was 8. Enough said, I think.
And so, as parents, each time we saw him using a gadget or watching TV, a number of questions would come up.
How much of an impact does it have on him?
Are we letting him spend too much time in front of the screen?
The time that he spends playing outdoors, is it enough?
We recalled our childhood when we played with friends in the yard outside the house or at the playground. We remembered family time with our parents and that magical moment when we would be allowed to watch that one cartoon show once a week on TV. Life was definitely less complicated than it is today!
Of course, we knew that for our son’s healthy development, physical, mental and emotional, it was important for him to spend time outdoors, interact with children his own age, and spend time using his hands and his brain to explore, play, learn and create.
We once got him an educational “computer” with which he could have fun learning new words and improving his vocabulary, compose music on the basic music keyboard, or sing along with the rhymes and songs. It had a bunch of puzzles, too.
One thing he really enjoyed was making models with cardboard cut-outs. When we received the subscription play kit, he thoroughly enjoyed playing with it and was careful enough to preserve it to gift it to another child. Just to give you an idea, here are the contents of the box: it came complete with a protective cover to keep clothes clean and other supplies.
- A wildlife safari coloring book
- Join the dots to guess the animal
- A model to put together animals and a cart
- A snakes and ladders type game.
- Coloring kit
- A picture with points – to write an essay
- A storybook
We also enjoyed many family activities together – going out for long walks in our area, singing together, playing games, and generally making it a point to spend time together. Until he was 12, we were lucky to have my Mom living with us. She made sure he was always busy doing something or other – reading, solving jigsaw puzzles, writing stories and poetry, and generally minimizing screen time unless he had a school project or wanted to watch a favorite program.
So suppose I ask you this:
Are you spending enough time with your child?
Would you say “I don’t know”?
Today, in most households, both parents go to work. The idea of taking time out, keeping the gadgets away, and bonding with your child seems almost impossible—even intimidating. Sometimes, there is that nagging thought: “I don’t know how to keep my kid engaged”
As a working parent or stay-at-home parent, keeping one’s child meaningfully engaged isn’t the only challenge. It’s more of a ripple effect.
Parents are pressed for time and hardly have time to think of an activity to keep their children engaged for long durations. Added to this, there is the problem of boredom if the child has a short attention span.
I know many families where the television, mobile phone, or gaming console are staples to keep children occupied. And when one of them is taken away, there is a full-blown tantrum.
Why isn’t technology the solution?
Studies have shown that a child’s early experiences impact his/her learning curve. Between the ages of 0 and 3 years, his/her brain is learning and acquiring so much information that it is quite startling.
Excessive exposure to gadgets or television hampers a child’s learning process, leading to a number of challenges.
What’s the way out then?
A child’s brain develops at an alarming rate and it needs to be constantly stimulated and actively engaged.
I came across this ebook titled Brain Development Secrets of Your Child, which talks about how your child’s brain develops at various stages and also provides insight into how you can keep your child meaningfully engaged at each stage.
Early childhood experiences are important for a child’s holistic growth. And, as parents, we play a vital role in shaping them. Gadgets and screen time are no substitutes for spending time spent with a child. To nurture the child, it is important to bond with them.
After all, to a child, love is spelled time.