Is your child a hopeless “screen-ager?”

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Children today are growing up with computers, Gameboys, Play Stations. X boxes and Wii’s, iPods, iPhones, iPads.

They are the generation of screenagers.

But what does this mean to your child’s development?

Well, it means that your child will be:

• Strongly visual and think in pictures
• Literal as opposed to abstract in their thinking
• Have a shorter attention span
• Will focus on the process rather than the content
• Will live their life more through their sensory experiences

So 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.

It’s important to relax and to just recognise 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 limiting, controlling and restricting the time and exposure that you allow your children to spend in front of their screens.

It’s about how you choose to redress this balance to their left and right brain learning – in the rules you set, the time you allow and what you think are acceptable games to play.

Children need your guidance to nurture them through this new technology.

Children today are highly visual learners and tend to think in pictures so to redress and balance this you need to be developing their auditory (hearing) and kinaesthetic (feelings, actions and experiences ) abilities.

So great games to play with your kids are charades, hospitals, post offices, shops and all sorts of make believe games to stimulate their imaginations and to 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 develop the right side of their brain and will increase their creativity and help redress 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 so important for successful family life and will be also developing their self esteem and self confidence.

Because your children are also so used to the fast paced, exciting world of instant gratification any activities that slow them down, unwind them and teach them to relax are also a great idea. It’s important that they learn to balance their sensory experiences.

So activities like listening to a story, listening to music, drawing, colouring, sewing or listening to relaxation CDs like Relax Kids Chill Skills are all great activities and skills to develop with your kids.

Also good old fashioned board games teach them patience, sharing, taking turns and camaraderie. It also develops their attention spans and allows them to follow through and finish an activity through to the end. This teaches them a very important life skill – patience!

So get out the Monopoly, Operation or the science kits and help your child 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 develop their tenacity and perseverance.

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