Children today are at an advantage with all of the technological advances that have evolved in life. We now have smart phones, I-pad, high speed internet and app, along with all the video games and software that has been created. They have definitely come a long way from the Atari and Commador 64 that I remember from my tween years. I also remember the toys that we had that let us use our imagination including legos, lincoln logs, pick-up sticks, and tinker toys. While all the technology can be good, it can also cause difficulties for our children.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices. Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity.

The AAP recommends that parents establish “screen-free” zones at home by making sure there are no televisions, computers or video games in children’s bedrooms, and by turning off the TV during dinner. Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content.

Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.

Caution should also be used when purchasing electronic toys that talk. Oftentimes, the sounds are not proper and can hinder your young child’s speech and hearing. Always be sure to model proper speech to your children.

Legos- Challenge your child to build a tower that is a specific number of blocks high. You can also have children make patterns or sort the colors while creating buildings.preschool child on tablet
Lincoln Logs – Set a timer to see who can build the biggest house. Take some to the kitchen with you and build in between stirring or chopping during dinner prep.
Tinker Toys – Give the child specific parts and name something to create. Your child will be proud when they accomplish the task.
Pick-up Sticks – The first challenge is to be able to find these in the store. So you can have your children create their own. This is very easy but will be fun too. Here is a link with instructions: http://www.carabrookins.com/pickUpSticks.html
Books – Children are never too young to be read to. Be sure to include story time as part of the bedtime routine. This allows children to relax and also spend quality time with mom and dad.
Outdoor Play – Bubbles, sidewalk chalk and hop scotch are all fun. Also, children love playing ball and going on short walks for added exercise. This wears them out and helps them sleep through the night.
So the next time you go to grab the remote, think about what other things you could do with your child to enhance his imagination.

Sources:

Media and Children. Aap.org.Retrieved July 27, 2013 from http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token.

Brookins, Cara (2006). Pick-Up Sticks. Carabrookins.com. Retrieved July 27, 2013 from http://www.carabrookins.com/pickUpSticks.html.

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