Peeling Your Kids Away from Electronics?
First off, there is some debate about how much is too much for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the quality of electronic programming matters as much as quantity. They emphasize parental guidance as to content and time spent.
Yet even if it is unclear how much is too much, employers agree that young people these days are sorely lacking in people skills. They put the blame right on electronics.
About 25% of executives surveyed in England said their junior executives’ social behavior had been embarrassingly inappropriate at times. 75% of them said that young people lack face-to-face social skills. Almost all of the executives interviewed believed that social skills were just as important, or even more important, than academic skills when it comes to success in life. Yet 63% said their office juniors often lack any such skills at all. It’s a train wreck–or, rather, a tech wreck!
We all want Our Kids to Succeed
How do we peel our kids away from the screen–the tablet, the smart phone, the TV–so they can learn to interact with people in a successful way?
After all, we like it too! We dads come home, we’re tired. We want some electronics time ourselves. We’d love to look at Facebook or television or answer and send messages on our phones. Maybe we were looking forward to some online shopping for the heated ski jacket we’ve been hankering for.
But we have to put our dad hats on and offer our kids positive alternatives to electronics. We have to make time for outdoor activities–even a simple walk around the neighborhood together. Interactive play time with cards, board games, indoor or outdoor sports, making or building something together (whether it’s a meal, a cake, or a tree house) are all good alternatives. The energy will come once we get going. In fact, we will find ourselves more rested and refreshed afterward than if we had spent the evening with electronics.
4 Steps to Get Started
1. Require and inspire your kids to spend one electronics-free hour with you per evening.
2. Start with one half hour if you have to.
3. Offer them a positive alternative, and electronics will become less important.
4. The most potent positive alternative you have to offer your kids is time with you.
Time with Dad and/or Mom is what kids crave (even the adolescents, though they would never admit it). The greatest gift you can give your kids–greater than the latest iPhone–is you.