Kids these days are often given a bad rap. They spend too much time on their phones. They don’t know how to socialize in mainstream conversation. They don’t know how to play in the dirt, and so on and so forth. The reality is, children are the product of their circumstances, and just like any generation before them. Children of this generation are being defined by the world around them. It just so happens that this generation’s world is about technology and a global outlook.
Because of the way of the world, children are being raised as ‘digital natives.’ This does mean that children are entering a world where education is increasingly dominated by technology. But it doesn’t mean that children are incapable of going outside and touching a leaf–that all comes down to the opportunities they are given.
As parents, you have a big say in how much children get outdoors. If you find yourself complaining that all your child wants to do is sit and play a video game or stare at a tablet screen, that’s not because the outdoors isn’t an option. It is because you haven’t presented the outdoors as an appealing option. Kids are impressionable–they’ll love anything and jump at any chance so long as you give it in the right way.
Control The Way Screen Time Spent
When your child comes home from school, they will have already spent much time looking at a screen, but they will still be keen to play a game on the iPad or scroll through their iPhone if they have one. Rather than letting your child spend hours doing this, make a deal with them. Have them dedicated an hour to homework or immediately after school, then use the screen for at least half an hour of educative purposes such as a reading app or numeracy game. After this, give them the equivalent amount of study time, an hour and a half, to use the screen however they want.
Don’t Allow Screens In Bed
As an adult, you may have noticed that having the smartphone beside you as you sleep is the worst thing you can do. It buzzes and lights up through the night and makes information always accessible. This is not a habit you want your child to get into from a young age. If they have a tablet or phone of their own, make sure they don’t take it to bed with them. You can prevent this by having a structured area for technology to stay overnight. Some ideas can be creating a charging station and decorating it with a space for everyone’s piece of technology. Be a role model as well, and leave your phone out here. It will be better for you too!
Create Something To Do Outdoors
Children are naturally curious, and one of the best ways to fuel their inquiry is through nature. Get them involved in outdoor activities in whatever way works for you. If you have a vegetable or herb garden, get them involved in planting and harvesting, and digging around the dirt. If you have animals, make sure you and your kids spend time outside with them. Make the outdoors a fun and inviting place. Even when the weather isn’t agreeable, you can still make the outdoors something worth exploring. Consider doing some indoor art, using leaves and twigs from outside. These are just little ways to get kids in touch with nature that will make a big difference.
Combine The Screen And The Outdoors
If you simply can’t detach that tablet or smart out of your child’s hand, then get them to take it outside. You can do so many things outdoors with technology, thanks to fun apps and games. Send the kids on an outdoor scavenger hunt where they have to take photos of as many things starting with the letter A, or get them to make an iMovie outside. See how many different bird or leaf species they can find something outside and get them to do some research and discover fun facts about them on Google.
These are all forms of inquiry-based learning and will show your kids how to use their technology while exploring the outside world. It will really help them to see that the outside world has so much to be discovered, and technology is a way to learn more about it, rather than a way to be cut off from it.