Just as computer usage can be a means to supplement a child’s education, it also has its share of drawbacks. Childhood is a time when attachments are formed, relationships established, and communication is learned. A child learns 80% of what he will learn within a lifetime in his first five years.
During these formative years it is essential that children benefit from a broad range of experiences in order to enhance their development in all areas of their life. Computers can be a benefit or a detriment to a child’s development if care is not given to achieving a good balance in computer usage.
Here are three simple steps to curbing your child’s computer usage, and keeping time spent on the computer a positive influence in your child’s life:
1) Encourage outdoor play: The benefits of outdoor play are numerous. You want your child to develop an appreciation of the outdoors from an early age, so as to help establish life long habits of exercise and appreciation for sports and physical exertion. Playing outdoors will also enhance your child’s creativity, and minimize dependence on outside sources for entertainment.
2) Establish a game night: Pull out the board games, card games, or any other activity that will get your whole family centered around a non-computer activity. Having an established routine of “game night” can become a tradition that your whole family will look forward to and enjoy.
3) Find a balance: To ignore the benefits of computers in this modern era would be foolish, so it is important to strike a good balance in the amount of time that you do sanction for computer usage, and what you allow your child to do while on the computer.
Be careful to not use computer time as a reward for good behavior or grades. Use it instead as a supplement to help round out educational experiences that you’d like to give to your child. Show your child that the computer and the Internet can be used as tools to help research school papers and projects. Purchase wholesome, age-appropriate computer games that feature an educational twist.
Lastly, while time spent in front of the computer can distort a child’s perception of reality, and cause a dislike of physical activity, providing your child with a wide array of real-life activities, will decrease your child’s desire to use computer time as their sole source of entertainment.