I am excited to say that this week’s blog will be a little different. I will be answering a question from a member that will apply to many of you. I welcome questions so if you have one, please submit it here. Here is this week’s question:
"Reading your book (how to raise successful people) and loving it. I realize that I have been trying to reinforce your methods unknowingly with my 3 Kids and your book really helps to define the ways to shape them as independent adults. The challenge I am facing now is on how to control/limit my 7 yr old boy on video games/YouTube (more games). Would love to hear your feedback!" - Judy
Everyone needs to know that in face of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics on March 17, 2020 published a statement that has a new approach to screen time. They noted that children’s screen time will increase (we have all seen that) and they did not offer any alternate time limits on purpose. They don’t want parents feeling guilty.
Kids are watching more television. Perhaps that is a case to worry. Kid television channels like the Disney Channel, YouTube, and Nickelodeon have had incredible viewing increases, which is not surprising since most parents have to work. Some are good, but watching TV is passive which is one reason I don’t recommend it. However, I do recommend gaming and using apps that involve interaction. Kids have to actively participate. They have to know how to play the game, and in doing so they learn a lot. The military even uses games to teach.
A Parent’s Magazine article talks about how pediatricians have reversed their perspective on screen time and suggests multiple ways to deal with the new normal. The 2 ways that resonate with me are:
- Treat media as you would any other environment in your child’s life
- Be a good role model
First, treat media the same way you would any other environment. Make plans and set limits together with your child.
Second, be a good role model. Kids follow what they see you do, not what you say. That is one of the core principles in my new book that comes out in paperback this week, How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results. Modeling what you expect them to do is the key. You don’t have to say “follow me;” they do it subconsciously.
Games are much better than TV because they are interactive. They teach kids many essential skills.
Research has shown our brains are “wired for pleasure,” and that games are an effective way to learn because they simulate adventure and keep our brains engaged and happy.
The amount of learning also depends on the game and the amount of time. Collaborate with your son, even though he is only 7 years old, and plan together how much game playing he will have. Give him the responsibility for monitoring himself. Come up with a schedule and game choices together. Some people will raise their eyebrows at such a suggestion, but it you trust your child to do it and he comes through, you have taught him how to self monitor. That is a great skill for life. If he fails a few times, don’t give up. Just reward him when he succeeds.
Most good games require team play and collaboration which is one of the attractions of games and a 21st century skill for the workplace. Gaming can also teach critical thinking, strategy, and even logic.
CommonSense Media publishes a great list of recommended games for kids. I suggest you check it out to find more games that may be suitable for your son.
Also, you, the mom, know your child better than anyone else---better than your pediatrician---so trust yourself and your child to come up with games, and a schedule that works for both of you. Don’t expect your pediatrician to know as much as you.
Finally, take an interest in what he is doing, ask questions, connect with him. If he wants to watch a movie, watch it with him and talk about it with him. Interaction is the key. If you can’t do it because you are working, use an older sibling or a family friend. It is best if they watch films together. Do the same thing for games. Be interested and ask him how he did, what he is learning, how he can improve. That sets up a positive relationship with your child and their lasting memories of this pandemic will be happy moments with their parents.