4 min read
As adults, we remember the days when we could play outside for hours, being summoned home when it came on dark by Mum or Dad calling from the front door. Now that was a happy childhood.
But as it does, time has changed many things, and now technology is shaping our kids’ childhood in a different way. Kids are spending less time outdoors being active, and many are wanting to spend more time sitting down watching TV or in front of devices. With 40% of families with children aged 8 and under owning tablet devices, children have more access to TV, games, and media than they ever have before.
Technology can have tremendous benefits for kids like improved cognitive function and motor skills. Unfortunately, most technology use is an inactive, indoor experience. And many parents struggle with how to balance technology use with other activities. Check out these tips to help create a healthy tech-life balance for kids.
Set Guidelines for Media Use
A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that two-thirds of children and teenagers report that their parents have “no rule” about time spent with media. Be clear with your kids on how much screen time they get a day. It is easier to control their exposure to media when you (and the kids) know the limits.
Common Sense Media suggests creating a schedule. This can include weekly screen time limits, limits of the types of screen they can use, and guidelines on the activities they can do or programs they can watch. This will help you monitor the time they are spending and how productive their screen time is.
Know the Quality of Media
Some types of screen time are more positive than others. Watching TV is not the same thing as video-chatting with Grandma, learning math skills, or active gaming on the trampoline. Active technology and screen time can help kids develop key skills like hand-eye coordination, language and social skills, memory, and critical thinking when used in moderation. Springfree Trampoline featuring tgoma, the first digital gaming system designed for a trampoline, combines gaming with activity. Educational TV shows like Sesame Street can teach children number and letters, making them more positive than non-educational programs, and media can also help kids learn about empathy, racial and ethnic tolerance, and a variety of interpersonal skills.
The best balance is when active technology and educational programming makes up as much of the mix as possible.
Make Screen Time Active Time
Technology can be more positive when used actively, instead of inactively.
Using the body as the controller, Springfree featuring tgoma allows kids to actively jump around while they try to stomp aliens and squish fruit. It takes their screen time outside and makes it active giving kids all the benefits of physical activity.
Turn Screen Time into Family Time
There are plenty of ways to make screen time something you do together as a family. Having a family movie night can be a great way to spend time together. It can also be fun to have a video game play-off with your kids. Especially if your kids already play video games, playing together in cooperative mode, or versing one another, can be a fun way to bond and turn gaming into a social, family activity.
Using tgoma on your Springfree can be an activity for the whole family too; you can create family challenges like who can do the most jumps in 15 minutes or who can get the highest score on Alien Stomp. It gives kids their screen time, makes it active, and even gives you a workout too!
Be a Role Model
As digital adults we are frequently on devices at home. It’s hard to limit screen time for kids when you may need to be on a device for work, to shop or just for entertainment purposes. Kids learn behaviour from watching their parents so modelling how you want them to use technology is a good way to create balance. They will have better technology habits if you help show them what moderation looks like while they learn to navigate their technology-enhanced life.