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  • Writer's pictureM Atkinson

Nothing but the tablet...

Updated: Dec 26, 2021

Two parents recently told me they worry about the amount of time their children spend on the tablet. After asking for some more information about what exactly their worry is, I find out that the real challenge lies in not being able to tempt the children into choosing alternative things to play with.

Of course, the tablet offers interesting movements and colours that keep children entertained. Also, the vast amount of games to choose from, makes that children are not easily bored when playing with a tablet.

I don't necessarily think all tablet use is bad. For example, children get to practice their hand-eye coordination. Sometimes, in games with other players, they learn how to work in a team to get a task done. Also, from a young age, they have to read and make decisions in their game, a feature that we as adults can use to make learning how to read well fun.

But, as with everything in life, there has to be a balance. We won't be needing only good hand-eye coordination in the future; we need for example our gross motor skills developed just as much. And we want to teach our children moderation and self-control. So, how do we best go about that?

This question brings me back to the actual problem: Not being able to tempt children into choosing alternatives.

When playing on the tablet, it seems like the response of the tablet on the child's actions, are the interaction that keeps the child interested. The child swipes, something happens in the game. How can we use this feature in offering alternatives?

Now the real question for when you want your child to choose something other than playing on the tablet: Do you tell them to play with their blocks or cars for a change, or do you invite them to play with you? You can be the element of interaction that your child needs to keep being interested in something other than the tablet.

Finding time to play with your child can be a challenge, especially when there's still work to be done and things to be cleaned. If you would like tailored support for working from home while your child is at home too, please feel free to contact me for a session.

One tip: Cleaning can be an excellent activity to do together with your child, away from the tablet.

To incite your child to play with you, sit in their playing corner and start building something, or just drive around with cars. Your child will be infinitely more tempted to join his or her parent and forget about the tablet!

Let's not forget to mention our example in the use of electronic devices. How much of an impression are you making as a parent when you tell your children to choose something else for a change, when all they see is you swiping your phone/tablet/smartwatch?

A quick way to become more aware of how many times you grab your device, can be done by visualising the next situation: Every time you are playing or spending time with your child and you notice you grab your device, you have to give your child a piece of candy. How big is the bag of candy you need at the end of the day?

Technology is part of our lives and has many benefits for both our children and us. It is our responsibility to create a balance and attractive, interactive alternatives.

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