The weekend is on the horizon, which means precious family time. Your priority is to bond and develop a close relationship with your child. However, it’s no surprise that your child is more interested in living vicariously through their phone screens. As great as it is that our phones have made our lives more convenient and entertaining, a phone can and should never replace the invaluable relationship between a parent and a child. While phones are not inherently bad, and they serve as a means to connect with people, it is how we use them that is of concern; too much screen time can be a sign of phone addiction.
Studies were conducted in the United States regarding a child’s screen time and it was found that 42% of children aged 8 and under own their own smartphone, and they spend at least 2 hours a day on them. A team of researchers from South Korea developed a questionnaire to determine smartphone addiction – if you notice your child getting upset when you limit their screen time, sneaking their phones into the room when it’s bedtime, or if they experience withdrawal symptoms when their phone is taken away from them (like tantrums or depressive states), or at worse, getting in the way of spending quality time with the family, these could be alarming symptoms of phone addiction.
Excessive device use can be detrimental to not only one’s self, but also to the relationships around them. As parents, it is normal to want our children to put their phone down, and build a deep relationship with them.
The 3 T’s to family bonding
With so many online activities tugging at our child’s attention, it can be frustrating to peel them away from their phones and bond with them. At other times, we just want to leave them to their own devices. Nonetheless, family is still family, and developing a deep connection with our children is all we want.
Setting time aside for some heart-to-heart conversations can deepen your relationship with your child. Be it during meal times, or before bed, talking to your child is the best way to not only get to know them, but for them to get to know you too. Talk to them about their thoughts on school or homework, their friends, their likes and dislikes, etc. Or, exchange stories about yourself, or other family members like their grandparents. Opening up about one another helps the both of you get to understand each other intimately.
Bring out the toys and find your inner child. If you do not believe in getting toys for your child, just remember to play with them. Playing with your child, with or without toys, can help you engage with your child in a fun and interactive way. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, play not only helps them develop their decision-making skills and cognitive strength, it also provides parents with the chance to see the world from their child’s perspective. This will help you, as parents, to empathise with them and build lasting relationships with them.
3. Time out together
Far from the naughty corner, not only does outdoor play help mitigate myopia, and enhances your child’s cognitive abilities, planning an outing with your child can enhance family bonding. Being with them outdoors gives you plenty of opportunities to teach them more about interacting with the world around them. Ask your child what he/she would be interested in visiting – the aquarium, the zoo, the park, the beach. Going somewhere that piques their interest gives them a say in their choice, and makes them feel like their opinions are respected.
All of us crave deep connections, and even more so with our loved ones. We already spend our weekdays at work, and our children at school, so weekends are practically the only time left for the family. Yes, smartphones can be a great way to distract you from real-world responsibilities. However, if you find your child constantly spending their weekends catching up on the latest episode of their favourite cartoon, or playing video games, apps like the planoApp help to encourage family bonding activities away from their phones.