Happily exclude your kids

Are you one of those who before you had kids vowed not to introduce your children to gadgets until they are of age? But now that you have had those kids and seen how ‘full of life’ they are, you are rescinding that solemn vow, because “you cannot come and die”?

It turns out we had the right idea all along when we made the decision to keep smartphones and tablets away from the kids until they are of age. Maybe the reason it is getting difficult to make that work is because we never had strong reasons to back the decision up. That’s why Umi is here. To give you reasons it is best to keep your kids off smartphones and tablets, to strengthen your commitment and to give you alternative options.

Technology is a wonder of our time. I mean, this newsletter is able to get to you in whatever country you are because of it. That’s just amazing. Someone did that. We love the wonder of technology. And because there are so many functions for it in many sizes right now, it is so cool and even woke to be updated with the latest smartphones. And kids are not excluded. Most kids nowadays are more vast with the use of smartphones and tablets than their parents. It is quite impressive. So, we are afraid our kids might be left behind or even start to feel excluded if we prevent them from having access to one when all their friends in school carry theirs with them.

Well, excluding them from the use of smartphones and some other technology now is one of the most important goods you can do for your kid. Early and uncontrolled exposure to gadgets has been associated with feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, bad vision, low academic performance, social awkwardness, low self esteem, obesity and so much more. These are not so good, are they? We want kids who do well in school and every other area of life. You don’t want kids who feel less than because they feel threatened by the kids they see online. They already feel pressure from their peers in school. Do we really want to add online pressure to that? Especially at such a young age.

But exposure to gadgets is not such a bad thing. For instance, I want my kid to learn several languages and also be exposed to knowledge from across the world. So that she is able to stand tall wherever she finds herself. And I want her to start learning these things early. This means that she will be exposed to some contents online from when she turns two. You may also want that as well.This is why we preach moderation and exposing them to contents that are age appropriate.

Wait till your kids are above 2 years old before you begin to expose them to online content or the use of smartphones.

Before then, you can play songs for them to listen to. They don’t really need to see it, they probably just want to dance anyway.

If you must, use a bigger screen. Let them watch it on television. It’s far from their sight and stationed. They can’t get too close to it to risk some damage to their sight.

When they are ready to use a gadget, get them a tablet. With a tablet, you can download the things you want them to access and then disconnect the tablet from the internet source. It is easier to control and again, it’s a bigger screen. Preferably, dim the lights on the tablet to avoid too much exposure to blue light.

Set a screen time and adhere to it. This is very important. If it is one hour immediately after they get back from school, or later in the evenings, then you have to follow that. Kids like structure and they often will respect it if they know that you would not budge about it. One method that I have also heard and seen people use is to avoid screen time during school days and give them shared screen time by weekends. You could try that.

Even better, get them to play with some toys or games in the house. There are so many actual toys, games and physical activities that can help develop their brain activity. Engage them around the house, have them paint and do chores. They still think chores are fun, why not let them do it. That way, you are teaching them a sense of responsibility and at the same time spending some quality time together.

A lot of times, we push our kids to watch something online because we don’t want to deal with them or we have to do some work and we do not want to be disturbed (Mummies working remotely, I feel you). But we cannot keep that up. We would only be looking out for ourselves and putting our kids at risk that way..

Learn how to play with your kids. So many of us fear that we might not be able to engage our kids, so we make the gadget a buffer between us. But that’s your kids. You know them better than anyone. And if you cultivate the relationship now, it is easier to maintain when they grow older.

Let’s happily exclude them from the use of smartphones and limit their use of tablets now. We need kids who are secure in their own skin. Kids who are confident, emotionally stable and kids who know to set their own limits/boundaries.

A good place to start might be you also putting down your phone from time to time. You, practising what you are teaching the kids.

Start now, Mama.

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