Has your child become addicted to your iPad & other mobile devices? Technology has become a digital pacifier for many parents — When a child acts up in public or grows bored over a meal, it’s easy to simply pull out a smartphone, prop it in front of your child and get back to more adult conversations. But should this be the case? Have we lost the art of building genuine relationships with our children?
At Mind Stretcher, we love technology. In fact, we’ve embraced technology as a vital part of our students’ learning journey as evidenced by our exclusive online revision platform, e-Study Buddy®, which is easily accessible through any tablet or desktop.
As responsible parents, we need to teach our children healthy moderation through proper boundaries and relationships towards the use of digital devices. Studies have shown that smartphone addiction in children has become a genuine threat, leading to obesity, ADHD and more. While technology in itself is not a bad thing, we need to be mindful of needlessly overexposing our children to passive experiences that hinder a child’s development of his or her mind and body.
That’s why we encourage parents to take the time to strengthen their relationship with their child through genuine, face-to-face activities and communication. Yes, it might not be as convenient as the appeal of a bright and shiny iPad, but isn’t each and every child worth your time and effort spent on them
So where do we start? Whether you’re the parent of a pre-schooler or a teenager, get ready to unplug with these 5 fun and meaningful ways to engage with your child other than an iPad.
1. Create a play area at home
According to early childhood educator Magda Gerber, “Active toys make passive children; passive toys make active children.” Passive toys, as Gerber refers to them, include everything from Play-Doh and Lego to stuffed animals and toy cars, encouraging children to create their own stories and stretch their imaginations. On the other hand, active toys (interactive apps, for example) do a lot of the work for you, creating a more passive and unchallenging experience for your child. Make a space in the house with “busy bags,” “quiet boxes” and “sensory bins” for your pre-schooler to provide a tactile learning experience that no tablet can hope to replicate.
2. Explore Science hands-on projects together
Why watch a YouTube video about Science when you can conduct fun hands-on experiments with your child at home? Hands-on learning will beat a passive video experience every time, and you don’t even have to spend very much; many fun and exciting Science experiments can be done with simple household items that you already have around the house. If you need a place to start, our Handy Science Kits are available at your nearest Mind Stretcher centre, complete with 6 exciting experiments each. You don’t have to be Einstein to teach your child about Science, but don’t be surprised if your sense of wonder returns the moment you experience your first successful experiment.
3. Visit one of Singapore’s local museums
Chances are that you haven’t explored every single museum in Singapore, but even if you have, each season brings along a new exhibition to explore, some tailored especially for children. Why not expose your child to all the rich art, culture and history Singapore has to offer? Spend an afternoon or two (or three!) getting up close and personal with a variety of Asian civilisations, Singapore history or ancient artifacts from around the world and see your child’s appreciation of the world around him expand exponentially. And while you’re there, we give you permission to take a selfie as a souvenir. It’s the perfect chance for you and your child to join the history books!
4. Learn a new creative hobby
Some talents are quite evident in your child’s skillset while others take a bit of time and digging to discover. Picking up a new hobby such as learning how to play a musical instrument is not only fun but could also be the key to unlocking dormant talents within your child. Or is there something you’ve always wanted to learn yourself but never had the chance to try? Learn a new creative hobby with your child as an opportunity to enjoy gardening, cooking or painting together and watch your child’s creativity grow by leaps and bounds.
5. Volunteer your time
Volunteering can easily be one of the rewarding experiences you can share with your child. Becoming aware of the needs of the around them builds empathy, a quality the next generation of leaders will need in abundance. Whether it’s visiting the elderly, picking up litter at the beach or donating canned goods to a local organisation, giving back to the community stretches the heart and brings families even closer together. Who doesn’t want to raise a kind, generous and loving child?
When was the last time you took the extra effort to engage your child without relying on technology? These activities are simply that: active. Children crave activity and engagement, and when we only provide them with passive forms of entertainment through technology, we’re depriving them of learning opportunities, engagement with the broader world around them and genuine loving attention that can only come from their parent.
As the modern world becomes increasingly digital, we encourage you to slow down and enjoy true face time with your children, building memories you won’t forget and bonds that will last a lifetime. Unplug and engage today.