Are My Kids Spending Too Much Time Looking at Screens?

Turning a Bad Habit into a Good One

Are My Kids Spending Too Much Time Looking at Screens?

Too Much Screen Time? Turning a Bad Habit into a Good One

Coding for kids isn’t something you hear about every day, but it’s a growing trend for helping kids put their screen time towards something more.

 

The amount of time we spend on screens continues to grow year to year, as technology continues to become a bigger part of our daily lives. It is no surprise then that for kids – even very young ones – technology is an integral part of both play and education. Concerns continue to be raised about the value of screens, and the debate almost uniformly focuses on the negatives of screen time on youth development. However, it is possible that screens can be a positive habit, and today we’re going to explore that idea further.

Changing the way we think about screens

To begin with, we need to change the way we understand screens. Entertainment that relies on screens has the potential to make our children addicted, and screen addiction can have some troubling knock-on effects for your child.

 

That said, it’s unreasonable to try to restrict access too heavily, as the fact remains that children now need access to screens for education and development, and we shouldn’t ignore the potential benefits of using them as educational tools.

 

Occupying your kids’ free time with screen time can be good or bad; it all depends on whether you fill it with activities that stimulate their minds. If they spend hours watching YouTube videos or you allow them to play video games for unlimited periods of time, there can be negative side-effects. Case in point, it recently came to light that child psychologists were involved in designing certain elements of the popular online game Fortnite, in order to make it stimulate the same parts of the brain that gambling does.

 

It’s important to note that we’re not suggesting banning games like Fortnite from your household – but you need to have restrictions in place. They make great rewards for kids, so long as you monitor their hours thoughtfully. It really doesn’t require that heavy a hand either, nor very rigorous rules. So long as you are aware of what your kids are doing – and comfortable with it – that’s what’s most important.

Creating free time from technology

 

Designating a set period of time in which your kids are allowed to watch YouTube or play video games is a great way to achieve this. On the other hand, you can also set times where they should be ‘unplugged’ from the PC or from mobile devices, and instead devote that time to playing outside, or doing something else.

 

Balance is crucial when it comes to making sure our children develop healthy habits. Even if you have already found ways to ensure that time spent on the PC or smartphone is productive, it is important to switch off completely from time-to-time, for a variety of health reasons.

Positive effects of screen time

 

If you notice your child preferring to spend time in front of a PC or smartphone, you could have an opportunity to turn that into something positive. Understand what motivates and interests them about the computer, and use that to your advantage. If they are into video games, steer their interest toward courses that teach them skills about coding. If they are into music, suggest they learn an instrument with instruction from the internet.

 

Once you’ve found out what attracts them to their screen time, it’s easy to put a positive twist on it.

Apps and games to kickstart their coding journey

When it comes to cool coding apps, there are a number of games your child can play to learn the basics of coding. Daisy the Dinosaur for instance, serves as a great foundation for younger children (4 – 7 years) to pick up the basics of coding. The goal is to make animate Daisy and make her dance, with simply drag and drop commands. Move the Turtle is a puzzle game that helps kids practice problem solving and, by extension, their critical thinking.  

 

Minecraft has long been held as a shining example of how a video game can empower our kids with critical thinking skills, lateral thinking skills, and an enriched sense of imagination. As an open-world sandbox game, the principles are simple – in survival mode, you have to live for as long as possible. In

Minecraft modding

Minecraft modding

creative mode, the goal is to just build. Beginning with nothing, you mine materials from the blocks around you, in order to build new gear for your character, create a habitat, farms, power grids and much, much more.

 

Minecraft is a game that encourages player-made modification. From simple reskins, through the more in-depth mods that change the mechanics of the game, the mod community is thriving for Minecraft. Hence, Minecraft coding for kids is a great way to kickstart an interest in programming. Being able to extend a game that they love, is a great motivator for kids to get into programming.

 

And even if your child doesn’t develop an interest in coding because of Minecraft, there are other skills they can learn. Through in-game mechanics power circuits can be developed to do an incredible range of things. By learning the basics of circuitry, kids can get interested in much more complicated concepts, like robotics.

 

There are other games that can help your child develop vital skills that they can apply offline and off the screen.

  • The ever-popular Roblox, which encourages kids to develop their own games and share them with their friends
  • Strategy games like Portal and Portal 2, to help develop spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. Suitable for older kids.
  • Simulator games like Farming Simulator or Kerbal Space Program can help your child learn management and decision-making skills. Suitable for older kids.

Making screen time work for you and your children

 

Through careful game selection, you can help encourage your kids to pick up coding or programming. Likewise, other video games can em

Coding for kids

Coding for kids

power your child’s imagination, or supercharge their problem-solving skills.

 

 

When it comes to coding, your kid can pick up the basics and progress to advanced levels with SCRATCHPAD! We offer a range of after-school coding, robotics for kids and 3D printing programmes for anyone from the age of 5! You can register your kid for a free trial to find out more.

 

 

Contact SCRATCHPAD today to learn more about their curriculum, and how your kid can benefit from learning to code and program.

ABOUT SCRATCHPAD

Scratchpad is both an approach to learning and a centre for creativity. We run our programs from our learning centres in St Lukes, Botany, Albany, Northcote & Stonefields Auckland, as well as offering additional support online.

         

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