To say that kids today spend too much time on their devices is like saying the sky is blue. It’s a given, an absolute, and it is MADDENING. From toddlers to teenagers, the dependence on and obsessiveness of these devices is out of control. Do our kids really need to watch toy reviews, play Minecraft, Roblox, and other attention suckers 24/7?
It’s not enough that our children play video games constantly, they now need to watch other people play these games on YouTube. Really? The texting, the TikToks, it’s too much. My family is just as guilty. It’s rare to find any one of them far from their phones, computers, or Switches for too long. Ugh!!!
When we were little, our screen time consisted of Atari or Intellivision (we were an Atari family), and I’m not gonna lie, I was an expert Pacman and Frogger player, but that was just a small part of how we would spend our time. We played outside- A LOT. We played board games, flipped baseball cards with our brothers, and made up games using, here’s a novel idea, our imaginations. We also read. For school and for fun. We read a lot. I was an avid reader when I was younger which has clearly made me the brilliant person I am today (for those of you who don’t know me, I’m sarcastic too
I do know many children who enjoy reading. In fact I know a bunch who frequently have their noses stuck in a book. I love when I see that. Unfortunately, far too many can not put their devices down long enough to enjoy the benefits of reading or experience the excitement of getting swept up in a great book or series. Put the iPad down and open a book.
Start them young.
There are so many benefits to reading to young children. Supporting cognitive development, improving language skills, improving concentration and discipline, bonding with your child, and improving imagination and creativity are just some of the wealth of benefits that accompany reading to your child.
Instilling a love of reading in very young children will hopefully create elementary aged children (and even adults) who love reading. There are a myriad of benefits to children and adults reading often too.
- Reading exercises our brains. It strengthens brain connections and actually builds new connections.
- Reading improves concentration.
- Reading helps kids develop empathy.
- Reading is a great form of entertainment.
- Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.
Believe me, I know it’s much easier said than done, but we all need to try to put books in our kids’ hands. And scale back on the device time. There are many ways to achieve this. Have your child earn device time through a certain amount of time spent reading.
Designate a set time for family members to read together aloud or alongside each other. Even older kids enjoy being read to! Start a family book club. Make it fun. Serve popcorn and smoothies during it! Visit the library frequently. And my advice to you, start to institute the less screen time/more book time early on when they are little and stick to it!
Both my girls love to read, but they also LOVE their devices. And at 18 and 21, it’s hard to tell them to put down those devices. I mean I could tell them, but they’re not going to listen!
We can do it. We can have our children put down that iPad and open a book!