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Is Your Child a Hopeless Screen-ager?

Children today are growing up with iPads, Nintendo’s, PlayStations, X-box’s and iPhones. They are the generation of ‘screenagers’. But what does this mean to your child’s development? Sue Atkins explains..

Well, it means that your child will:

  • be strongly visual and think in pictures
  • be literal as opposed to abstract in their thinking
  • have a shorter attention span
  • focus on the process rather than the content
  • live their life more through their sensory experiences.

This will naturally have an impact on your child’s thinking and learning. It is also something schools will have to address in the way they teach children in the future.
For you, it’s important to relax and just recognize and understand the differences from when you were growing up.

Through their exposure to the on-line, on-screen and mobile evolving technology, our children are learning, and are being stimulated, at a much faster speed. They expect instant gratification.

I think it helps if you accept that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – just ‘different’ from when you were young. But where you can make a difference, and redress this balance, is by controlling and limiting the time your children spend in front of their screens. Children need your guidance to nurture them through this new technology.

With their learning today being highly visual, you need to redress the balance by helping them to develop their auditory (hearing) and kin-aesthetic (feelings, actions and experiences ) abilities. Great games to play with your kids are charades, hospitals, post offices, shops and all sorts of make-believe activities to stimulate their imaginations and develop their use of language and vocabulary.

Any creative activity, from painting, cutting and sticking to photography, recording their own music, cooking, dancing, writing stories or playing a musical instrument will stimulate and increase their creativity and help counteract the passivity of sitting down playing on a screen. It will also develop their social skills and emotional literacy and will help you bond together if you also get ‘stuck in’ and play with them too.

By spending quality time playing with your children you are developing the ‘we’ mentality of a team that is so important for successful family life. You will be also developing their self-esteem and confidence.

Because your children are so used to their fast-paced and exciting technological world any activities that slow them down, unwind them and teach them to relax are also a great idea. So, listening to a story, listening to music, drawing, colouring, sewing or listening to relaxation

Good old-fashioned board games teach them patience, sharing, taking turns and camaraderie. They also develop their attention spans and allow them to follow through and finish an activity to the end. This teaches them a very important life skill – patience! So, get out the Monopoly, Operation or the science kits.

Help your child to develop a new hobby like fishing or judo, and help them to explore, become curious about the world in a proactive and balanced way. Guide, nudge and help them to develop their tenacity and perseverance.

Additional Resources
The Sue Atkins Appropriate Age and Stage Screen Time Checklist (FREE Resource)
Screenagers? Electronic Babysitters? How Much Screen Time is OK for your Kids? (Webinar)

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The author

Sue Atkins is a television presenter, author, parenting and teaching specialist. Sue regularly appears on ITV’s This Morning programme where she presents on parenting issues. Atkins also regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. Sue is on a mission to make parenting easy and has teamed up with Nexus Education to help teacher through her extensive experience.

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