I worry about the impact of what I see as the over-use of technology in our family. I never really wanted my children to play video games and so on at all. That decision was taken out of my hands when my parents turned up with a games console one day for my oldest son. More followed and all my children spend a lot of time on screens with the boys particularly keen on video games.

In my childhood, I think some children did have games things but I was not one of them and did not miss them. Now, they are a part of our everyday lives. Parents have always struggled to find reliable ways of pacifying a child when they are upset, but now more than ever, many appear to be counting on smart-devices to entertain their children. I think this is a worrying turn of events. A smart device can distract but it can not provide the listening, counselling and hugging skills of a parent or other loved one.

Children now own their own smartphone by age 7; based on a survey of 1,500 parents – Opinium found that children also owned an iPad by age eight. This makes me feel our family is not so bad. My children were much  older when they got phones and quite basic ones at that. I am not attached to my phone and so my children seem to have phones in their right place too. I am also never keen to buy the latest or more expensive item partly because I can’t afford them and also because I like children to value things and know that price is not always what matters most.

Have I used smart devices to calm my children down on occasion? Have I just wanted some peace sometimes and accepted that smart devices can act as babysitters allowing me to get to the  loo or make a cuppa? Yes I confess I have done this. Sometimes juggling work, home education and  housework means I have to hope the children can entertain themselves from time to time. At times like this, I can almost work up a love for smart devices.

If parents continue to use smart devices to entertain children, then in the long-term, it is unclear how this may impact a young child’s social and emotional development. As opposed to using more traditional methods, digital devices appear to be more convenient than human interaction, but only time will tell how much of an impact this will have on a child’s cognitive learning.

Infinite Playgrounds, specialists in creating wooden canopies and natural playground equipment, investigates just how much of an impact this is having on our children, and how we can return to more interactive forms of play in the future.

The problems with smart technologies and child development

Before the age of two, a child’s sensory play with objects or other people helps them to develop their problem-solving skills within unstructured play. A person’s capacity for empathy is derived from social interaction with others, so when a child plays with an inanimate object – such as a smartphone – this limits their ability to gain an understanding of others, as they don’t solve problems with others constructively. However, I  know my children would argue that some video games involves team-working skills and that friendships can form online.

Every person has their own thresholds for sensory information; for example, someone who has a high threshold finds it harder to register sensory information, whereas others have a lower threshold – thus finding it easier.

Studies have suggested that smart devices compromise the extent to which these thresholds can be developed – limiting a child’s cognitive ability to register external stimuli that allows them to understand the world around them. However, more traditional forms of play, such as using building blocks, can ignite a child’s imagination and basic maths skills through interaction with physical stimuli. This is opposed to digital forms of entertainment that the child can’t touch. I think some of us parents have lost touch with the play we enjoyed as children. When I step back into traditional play the children love it whether den-building, crafting items for an imaginary desert-island or Lego which has always stood the test of time.

Can smart technology benefit a child’s understanding?

The simple answer is that there is no proof that smart technologies encourage or compromise a child’s learning. Studies have suggested that in children who are close to school age, children’s television programmes and smart technologies can help to improve vocabulary and reading comprehension, but this is only when children have already acquired the basic cognitive behaviours and skills attained from human interaction.

Parents can help by testing smart applications before they are given to a child, to establish whether they are worth handing over to their children for play in the first place. It strikes me us parents are facing huge changes and could do with far more support in this area.

The benefits of sensory play

The five senses, taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing, allow a child to evaluate and weigh up the world around them. These senses help build stronger cognitive abilities, whilst human interaction improves language development, gross motor skills, and teach children the basic principles of social interaction.

As well as producing cognitive benefits, traditional forms of play also produce physical benefits within a child. Heightened bodily awareness within the space they are in, and balance, are improved when children interact with the world around them, not a screen.

This is because this type of play refines their thresholds for understanding the five different types of sensory information that they will process. By making stronger connections with the brain, a child is able to retain more and learn more as a result. I have looked into how I might incorporate the five senses more when it comes to our home education adventures.

Although smart technologies have become part of an adult’s everyday life, this doesn’t mean that they need to be part of a young child’s one too. Research is beginning to reveal that smart technologies, as opposed to traditional interactive forms of play, can do more harm than good. Perhaps limiting a young child’s exposure to smart devices will allow them to make the most of their early-years learning, improving their cognitive understanding and the world they live in.

I may be old-fashioned but I still really do not like seeing babies and very young children on screens at all. Let’s get back to traditional forms of play and bond with our children rather than use the screen as a babysitter.

Sources

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/technology/children-first-mobile-phone-aged-seven-browse-internet-five/

 

 

My Random Musings

Keeping the kids entertained over the summer seems easy enough at the start of the school holidays. A few weeks later and social media is full of parents worrying that their children keep complaining that they are bored. Boredom can actually lead to your children coming up with their own creative ideas for learning and play. However, on the days where you are tearing your hair out, here are some ideas to put the smiles back on your children’s faces.

Get outdoors

Getting  outdoors is good for us and boosts our mood with that wonderful Vitamin D magic. Go for a nature walk picking up items of interest and discussing them. I used to love doing this with my Dad when I was a child and learned so much. Even if you are not particularly sporty, there are fun and affordable ways to get more active whether splashing in a paddling pool or checking out the fun-filled items from  SkateHut or supermarkets.

Cook up a storm

My tween is easily bored and going through puberty which does not help his mood one bit. However, he will always respond positively to spending time in the kitchen and has ambitions to be a chef one day. We used to just bake sweet treats but these days I am showing him the joys of cooking family meals from scratch. Yesterday we made the most luscious turkey burgers for tea.. Activities like these are great for relieving boredom but also teach essential life skills.

Old favourites

Think back to what kept you entertained as a child. Was it building Lego creations or colouring in?  Increasingly as children spend more and more time on screens, they are disconnected from the old pleasures of school holidays. It doesn’t have to be that way! Might I suggest you disconnect the screens instead and indulge in the pleasures of the real world for a change. Get to the seaside to build sand castles, to skim stones and to paddle. Build a den outdoors using natural resources or make a duvet fort on rainy days.

Finally check out what is happening in your local area by visiting your library and council offices.

Happy Holidays!

Keeping The Kids Entertained Over The Summer

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Change is tough for anybody to get to grips with, especially children. Even the smallest of transitions can cause them to question their standing in life, and those that are genuinely life-changing can have the potential to make or break them.

You can help your children when it comes to these sorts of changes in life, though, by preparing them for them. For advice on how to do just that in regard to certain situations of change, read through this article.

Preparing them for moving school

Whether it’s through choice or whether the decision was made out of their control, there will come a time in their lives where your child will move school. Some take it better than others, and some make it far more challenging than it needs to be.

If your child challenges their school move, it means they are not ready or prepared to make the change being asked of them. If you feel your child might challenge you, then you need to prepare them beforehand. You need to take action by discussing the move with your child well in advance of it happening, you need to show as much enthusiasm as you can for the move yourself, and you need to discuss with your child everything about the move that is making them uneasy. By listening to them, you can understand exactly what they are concerned about, and you can counteract this by talking about the positives of the change. If it is moving from lower school to upper school, this will be a particularly emotional upheaval, and there will be opportunities to work with the schools involved, as well as other children and pupils, to help deal with the transition.

Preparing them for moving house

Moving home is stressful for adults and kids alike, but it’s the latter that are likely to suffer the most with this change. It can make them feel powerless as their whole world is flipped upside down, and it is for these reasons why you need to prepare them as best you can.

You should visit your new home with your kids long before you plan to move into it, just to get them accustomed to it and to give them something to look forward to in the venture — you could even allow them to make tentative plans in regard to their bedrooms. Focusing on the positives in this manner will make your kids look to the future, something that is much better than holding onto the past.

Preparing them for a divorce

 The divorce of their parents is a life-changing time of transition that more and more children are facing these days, and those that face it need to be prepared for it.

Should you ever find yourself in the situation of negating a divorce with your partner, first, you would have to get in touch with a solicitor, attaining a family law solicitors London free consultation from them quickly when you do, in order to nip any arguments in the bud — the fewer arguments there are between the adults, the better protected the kids will be. After that, you would have to sit your children down to have a frank and open discussion with them, whether you or they want to or not, to ensure they are fully aware of what is happening, as well as to gauge how they are taking it all. You should also seek to answer all their questions clearly and honestly.

Even the sweetest of relationships can turn sour, and it’s not good for anybody involved when they do, least of all the children.

Children do not always take to change well, but they will take it to it better with a bit of preparation.

Cuddle Fairy

When the temperature heats up, we seek a cooling tonic and that often comes in the form of a swim.

There is the sea to cool off in and the cooler temperatures of open swimming in lakes to enjoy too. Increasingly, we are buying swimming pools to enjoy in the garden too, with pool and landscaping design becoming far more commonplace in family homes.

Unfortunately, we aren’t always prepared for the cold water shock that comes with plunging into a deep swimming pool, lake or the sea.

Even strong swimmers can get into trouble quickly in cold water so it pays to be safe around water, whether that is a pool in the back garden or a dip in the lake.

Being Pool Safe

From small paddling pools to larger, deeper family swimming pools, the range of temporary and semi-permanent swimming pools has grown in recent years.

But being safe around water is something we should all be vigilant about but do you really know how to stay safe around water?

This clever infographic Staying Safe by the Pool is a family-friendly guide to pool safety and why we need to take more notice of how we use the pool.

It gives clever hints on what to look for around the pool area, as well as what you should be looking out for when your family and friends over enjoying the sunshine and the pool in your backyard.

Staying safe

Staying safe is not difficult when you know what to look out for. It also helps us to understand why our behaviour changes so much for other times – in the summer, when the sun is shining, we want everyone to relax and enjoy the pool.

But sometimes that means we relax too much leading to some dangerous stuff happening before our very eyes! But with these hints and tips, you will enjoy the summer in the swimming pool, or at the lake or a swim in the sea – just make sure you are really safe!

Safety In The Pool

Winnettes

We all dream of the perfect family holiday. We have scrimped and saved all year to allow ourselves time out somewhere lovely for some quality time as a family. If you are like myself, you will have cherished memories of your own childhood holidays and want to ensure your children have amazing times when travelling  too. I find holiday cottages give us the best time as they give a feeling of space and relaxation like back home.

Planning

Of course it is easy these days to find holidays at the last minute. However, I have taken my Dad’s example and like to do some good planning in advance. This means talking with every family member about their dreams for their time away and looking at pictures online. If you read reviews you can also find out if the accommodation is really family-friendly or is just using that as a marketing tool. As part of my planning I also like to ensure I have looked into options for days out whatever the weather. Perhaps sadly but inevitably, I also check whether Wifi is available so the children can access their beloved screens and I can do a bit of work if necessary. Finally if you want some adult only time you can research kids clubs and so on. They  are not my cup of tea but each to their own. Talking of cups of tea, I also like to ensure a supermarket can deliver shopping ordered online in time for our arrival.

Packing

I always smile when I think of packing as my Dad wouldn’t let me or my Mum get involved in it due to our slightly chaotic approach.  Moving on, there are lots of things you should pack to save a whole load of hassle. These include things like sticking plasters, Calpol, sun protection, antibacterial handwash and any medication your family require. Always have plenty of baby wipes which every parent can tell you are worth their weight in gold for cleaning surfaces from restaurant tables to toilet seats. You will have your own ideas of what makes the perfect holiday wardrobe. I like to include some older clothes that I won’t worry about if they get covered with sand, sun tan lotion and food spillages. Always ensure you have a jumper or cardigan for everyone and a coat for rainier days.

Coping with long journeys

Children get bored easily and all the more so if they know they are going somewhere really exciting.  Firstly make sure you have regular stops for snacks and drinks and bring them from home as buying en route can be really pricey. Make a goodie bag up for each  child with books, games, activities, pens and treats. Again think about health and ensure you have travel sickness products to hand too.

Memory-making and the perfect family holiday

Since losing my parents, I have worked out that the only really important thing in life is making great memories. They are fun whilst they are happening and they sustain us in challenging times. So ensure you have some equipment to capture those memories whether that is a journal, scrapbook or camera.

Do you have any great tips for planning the perfect family holiday?

How To Plan The Perfect Family Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mum Muddling Through