If you have a child or grandchild who is of school age, there is no doubt that you -- or Santa -- have received a request for an electronic device as a holiday gift. The request could be for an iPod, a cell phone, a Nintendo, a DVD or a Wii. The choices seem endless! You probably also heard that "everyone in my class (or school or the universe) has one". Many parents are in a serious quandry about children and electronics -- from the high price tag for a gift for a young child to the impact that use of the device has on the child's development.
You know your child. Use that knowledge in making your decision about giving an electronic gift. You can also set healthy limits on the use of any electronic devices -- including television viewing. Here are a few recommendations from Whole Hearted Parenting on managing electronics:
· Place electronics only in common areas of the home, not in a child’s bedroom.
· Monitor electronic game use and content.
· Set a clear structure around use of electronics that includes homework and household responsibilities first being completed before plugging in. Include limits on the length of time children are permitted to have “screen time”.
· Do not permit use of electronics before breakfast, right before bedtime or during meals.
· Unplug! Turn off the television, computer and game devices. If you are drawing a blank on what comes next or how to handle a bored child, here is a great resource. Awarded the Good Parenting Seal by Parental Wisdom (www.parentalwisdom.com), Unplugged Play: No Batteries, No Plugs, Pure Fun, is a parent’s guide to over 700 ways to inspire valuable, creative play.
· Establish a family game night to play board and card games together.
· Create and tell stories as a family.
· Encourage kids to move more. Screen time is sedentary time. Permit unstructured outdoor play.
· Reconnect with nature – plant a garden, walk in the woods, talk about trees and insects and watch the sky!