Digital technology is everywhere these days, but is that a good thing? Some see it as a potential diversion that prevents children from spending time on more important things, like engaging face-to-face with their families.
Is technology robbing a new generation of the opportunity to learn through physical play? There are now calls for students to spend more time with their parents and siblings away from their iPads, smartphones, and video game consoles. So, what benefits can come from spending more time with the family?
How play has evolved
For generations, children have benefited from make-believe and physical play. Dolls, toy soldiers, dress-up costumes, and stuffed animals were hallmark features of nurseries for centuries. Yet in the 21st century, traditional playthings are on the wane.
Generation X grew up free of cellphones and tablets. They played outdoors with their friends, rode bikes around their neighborhood, and played with toys. Within a few short years, all this changed. Now, you can catch toddlers playing with technology-based toys in their strollers. Smart TVs, laptops, tablets, video game consoles, and smartphones are everywhere. Most kids have at least one piece of tech that they use regularly, and more of us are living a good portion of our lives on screens.
Children are captivated by social media, emails, online games, and on-demand streaming and entertainment. If you take a look around any restaurant, shopping mall, or park, you’ll likely spot young people with a cellphone in their hand.
While digital technology can play an important role, parents, teachers and the public have concerns about its negative effects. One of the biggest worries is that the more time children spend on their devices, the less time they’ll spend physically interacting with the world around them isolating them from real-life experiences.
Moms and dads are beginning to realize that whole days are going by without any true interaction with their kids. Even when families are physically together, they’re often not interacting with each other. Each person is in their own world and on their own device.
The importance of spending quality time with family
Family time is all about bonding and sharing experiences together. Quality family time gives children a feeling of belonging. They also develop traditions and routines that stand them in good stead for the future. However, the concept of family time is evolving and changing.
Three or four decades ago, family time looked rather different than it does now. In the 1970s or 80s, families would spend time playing a board game or going for a bike ride together. Now, families are likely playing video games together (or even independently) or watching movies and streaming shows.
However, this change doesn’t mean that family time is dead. Technology can play a key part in quality family time today.
For example, playing Wii Sports together can help children stay active while also enjoying fun playtime with their siblings and parents. Interactive VR games such as “Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes” is a great way for the whole family to have fun using technology together while developing thinking and communication skills. These are two examples of how modern family time that embraces technology in a healthy way should look.
Quality family time in the 21st century isn’t about banning the use of digital tech completely. Rather, it means finding the right balance between technology and physical play. Of course, outdoor activities and child-led social play are still essential for the development of emotional and social skills and positive mental health. However, passive, sedentary, and solitary play can also be beneficial. Finding creative ways to use tech within the family unit and imposing some limits on screen time is the answer.
How do children benefit from family time?
Family time activities can be many and varied. They may include rough-and-tumble playtime or quiet storytelling. They may come in the form of creative projects or exploring the great outdoors. They may also include tech-based activities such as playing video games together or watching a movie as a family unit and then discussing it. Regardless of the form that family time takes, it offers a host of benefits.
Repeated positive connections between children and parents fosters secure attachments. This leads to better physical and mental well-being, which can improve a student’s academic performance, as well as boost their contentment. Quality family time can help deter physical and mental health problems later in life. Those advantages mean that limiting passive digital screen time in favor of more active family pursuits could prove to be highly beneficial.
Time spent with the family unit builds self-esteem in young people. Children who have strong family bonds have greater confidence in their own abilities. They also have stronger social skills thanks to the appreciation and love they receive from their parents. This enables children to build their own positive relationships when they get older.
Quality family time also helps to nurture positive behavior in young people. When parents participate in activities regularly with their kids, they can mentor them more effectively. This means they can promote good behavior while nipping problems in the bud at an early stage. This helps children to realize that they’re accountable for their own behavior in social settings. It goes without saying that this offers many advantages for young people later in their life — they’ll develop the ability to behave appropriately around strangers, or even in the workplace.
Taking time to be together as a family
Although modern life can be hectic, it’s clear that spending time together as a family unit is as important today as ever. While parents and kids don’t need to spend every hour of the day with each other, taking some time on a regular basis to participate in joint activities is highly beneficial.
When students spend more time with their siblings and parents, they benefit in many ways. They develop stronger family bonds, create positive memories, and learn appropriate behaviors. While physical playtime and outdoor activities remain a key element in family life, digital activities can now also play a part. Whether you’re playing Monopoly or a video game, the most important thing is to maintain social interaction between generations. When families strengthen their bonds, the advantages stretch far beyond simply enjoying each other’s company.
By hanging out with their families more often, children of all ages reap the benefits. The youngest students improve their social, communication, and physical skills much more rapidly, while older children learn key lessons about life and boost their self-esteem. The mental and physical benefits for students extend into their future, helping them to enjoy greater success and well-being later in life. And isn’t that what we all want for the next generation?
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