Wednesday, March 12, 2014

[Screensavers ] Technology should be a tool, not a burden or a health risk !

Ask Xav if he likes my mobile phone better or his daddy's. He will immediately tell you "Daddy's" ! I, myself is not a fan of mobile games, what you can find in my phone are nothing but applications for editing photos and some educational application for learning. I DO NOT use gadgets to babysit Xav. Yes no doubt about this, let the kids entertain themselves and peace will reign. This is what is happening.

Xav is turning 6 this month. So far, he has been exposed to the television screen (since 6 months old) but for a maximum span of 30 mins a day when I need to cook. Now that he is much older, most of the time when we are home, without the daddy, the television will not be switched on. But if the daddy is around, it's the total opposite ! It's his means of de-stressing after a long day at work, I can't possibly stop.

For Xav, I have not officially exposed him to the Internet world and have no intention to get him exposed at such an early stage. It was only recently he was tasked with an assignment to look up for facts of a certain animal and to do some read up on it. I sat beside and guided him along teaching him how to GOOGLE for it. You know GOOGLE have it all !

I received an email from one of the students from NTU's Wee Kim Wee School who is involved in a campaign encouraging healthy digital technology habits amongst children, titled Screensavers. The campaign works to nurture healthier digital kids through activities involving parent-child interaction, and features six Screen Tips as seen below.

I thought why not ! Xav does not get to lay his hands on the Ipad and other electronic gadgets when I'm with him. He only gets it from the daddy and his aunt. For myself, I have to confess on the part where my mobile phone is always within my sight or glued to my hand replying in the various Watsapp group chat most of the time (yes, am guilty of that and am trying hard to cut away from my mobile as well as surfing FACEBOOK when am with the kids) They do observe us, if you read back on this post on what Xav praised me about.

One fine afternoon, in the foodcourt, I came across a mum, who allowed her child to glue his eyes to the Ipad. She fed him while his hands were kept busy playing on the Ipad during his meal time (To note, am not trying to pin point any parents who needs these gadgets to get their kids to eat) but in my opinion, the child should be trained to be more independent. In my case, yes. Call me a tiger mum  if you need to. But Xav has been trained and I would need him to be more independent since I have to cater to the needs of the younger one.

More often than not, most parents think that letting the kids play with the gadgets is stimulating them and more likely their way of giving their form of love to the children. But they are not aware of what it can lead to when the kids are being excessively exposed to, especially the significant impact on their mental health.

Tell tale signs that the kids are addicted to the gadgets & technology:

1.  Losing interest and see no joy in doing other activities such as going for movies or outdoor   play, except for playing with the games on the Ipad/ Smartphones.

2. Watch that mood swings ! Kids, can get downright irritable and aggressive, crying or screaming, when told to stop with the gadgets or when gadgets were being removed from them. (Sounds similar to that of drugs) You could see signs of anxiety and depression in them.

Some kids used IPad to avoid dealing with negative emotions could have a problem too. For instance, after a fight with a sibling or a parent, if your kid always grabs the IPad he may be coping with his negative emotions with it.

(Similarly to a demand fed baby, each time baby cries you feed him/ her with milk, the baby will in turn feel happy and satisfied. When the baby grows up,  tendency of using eating as a method to overcome the negative emotions and feel happy, could be there.)

3. Technology addiction can impact a child's sleep, interfere with meal times and eating habits and make children act up during play time.

4. Difficulty paying attention. Check out with their teachers if the child is facing this problem in school as well.

5. Turning into Pinochio, with their nose growing longer as they lied to have more time with the gadget under their blanket!

When these signs are showing, you know it's time for a DIGITAL DETOX !

Some ways which you can "DETOX"  :
- Set a time limit to play with the gadget. Establish a maximum daily time allowance. Parents themselves can try to follow by it and engage the kids. This will prevent the formation of unhealthy dependence on it.

- Planned for outdoor activities ! The children need to expand their energy. Bring them to the park, to the playground. Check out Singapore's largest thematic outdoor playground - Westgate Wonderland !

- Plan for a jogging or cycling session with your little buddy. Am sure they would be more than happy !

- I'm trying very hard to leave my mobile phone aside during meal times and just enjoy the bonding over meals, giving Xav all the attention if I can.

- End the day before going to bed with a story rather than giving the child the Ipad just right before to bed.

- Protect the eyes by giving it a rest by looking at something green to relax your eyes. Some eye exercise which you can carry out if you do not have the chance to move away from your seat. Move your eyes around clockwise, left to right and from top to bottom.Repeat it 3 times each for relaxing your eyes.

So much so for addiction and detox tip. Hope by Mylilbookworm where Mummy Jenn shared some tips on prevention of inappropriate content exposure.

Something for the March Holidays if you have yet to plan for any activity, join the Screensavers Team at their Screensavers' Day Out ! It's an event organised by the three undergraduates from NTU to encourage families to have more outdoor fun while learning about healthy digital technology use, particularly through six Screen Tips :)

What you could be expecting; Screensavers Trail that your family can complete together, learning at the Screensavers exhibit, a CitiBlocs station, a bouncy castle, face painting and balloon sculpting! Mark down these two dates !

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Dianaruth Guo said...

Woo. It's still on tomorrow. Maybe I'll pop by w the kids and the hubs. I think the hubs need digital detox urgently after reading ur post. ;p

xavvy said...

Dianaruth, hahaha same here !! Think I should get Xav to relate to him what he learnt at the fair !

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