"Just over half of children in the United States — 53 percent — now own a smartphone by the age of 11. And 84 percent of teenagers now have their own phones, immersing themselves in a rich and complex world of experiences that adults sometimes need a lot of decoding to understand."
This is the reality that we have to face about our children. As parents, we would like to make our children happy and updated with technology because this is what is happening now. Almost every child has his or her own mobile phone where they get pleasures of watching videos, gaming, listening to music and surfing the internet for information and other reasons.
Mobile devices are not that bad because, for one thing, we can communicate with our children when they go to school or go somewhere else with their friends. We, as parents, want our children to be safe all the time and be home before dark as much as possible. So the most practical way to communicate with them is through their mobile devices or their smartphones.
However, scientific studies show that there are risks in children’s constant use of cell phones. If you can observe them at home, they are usually holding their phones, so focused on them that sometimes interaction is nil. For example, during dinner, they just sit at the table without a sound because they are busy with their smartphones and most of the time as busy as their parents.
Talking time can be hardly seen on the dinner table. Children are becoming more individualistic because of smartphones. And this habit I think will stay until parents control the use of these mobile devices, especially at home. Another thing, children are usually bored during this pandemic as they stay home most of the time and they think there is nothing more to do than surfing the net with their mobile phones.
With this situation, we, as parents, should come up with fun and engaging activities to keep our children away from too much use of their smartphones. Human interaction and communication is the most important ingredient for better family relationships and understanding. So, there are fun activities that you could initiate at home until the school opens again several weeks away from today. I gathered some activities from articles online which I hope are worth sharing with you.
- Learning how to bake from an old cookbook given by grandma
- Playing board games or card games
- Engaging in painting or drawing
- Walking the dog
- Letting everyone do a crossword puzzle or Sudoku
- Writing a journal or a diary about ideas formed
- Riding a bike, skateboard, or scooter
- Playing darts, ping pong, or air hockey (for boys)
- Going for a run or a walk
- Doing some gardening
- Knit, crochet, or rainbow loom with the girls
- learn to plan an instrument like a guitar and start singing a song
- Write a short story
- Paint your room or sibling’s room
- Practice yoga.
- Organize your shoes
- Read a magazine or newspaper you have never read before.
- Do an extra chore and surprise your parents.
- Make homemade ice cream
Other teenagers may also want some help from their parents, especially those who are staying at home since the start of the pandemic. Below are some of the things that you could do for your teenage son or daughter. (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/staying-home-during-covid19-help-teens-cope)
1. Discuss the facts about COVID-19 and the pandemic and what they should do to prevent contracting the disease. "A regular weekly check-in when children and adults can discuss coronavirus information as a family using trustworthy, science-based sources. This can help clear up misunderstandings and give parents a chance to answer teens’ questions honestly and clearly."
2. Use screen time constructively - Teens love their phones and tablets, and since they’re pretty much a lifeline between teens and their friends, the pandemic may make it difficult to limit screen time. Some social media and online time can be used to launch and complete a project, something with a beginning, middle, and end that can give teens a sense of accomplishment.
“Teens can start a book club with friends — read a book together and talk about it,” Rahman says. “They can use social media to try dance challenges, photography projects, and other activities, based on their interests.”
3. Set boundaries and provide purpose.
4. "As a parent, you can impress upon your kids that the pandemic doesn’t mean they can just hang out until further notice,” Rahman says. “Don't be afraid to assign chores and engage teens in the family’s work, such as pitching in to prepare meals.
5. Monitor teens' mental health - “Parents know their children best,” she says, “so if something seems off about their teen, they should trust their instinct and find out what’s going on, especially if the child has a history of depression or anxiety.”
Specifically, she recommends parents be on the lookout for:
1. Sleep changes, such as sleeping more or insomnia
2. Eating a lot more or a lot less
3. Signs of self-harm, substance abuse, or acting out more than usual
4. Not participating in activities that normally bring them joy
5. Isolating more than normal (e.g. eating dinner alone in the room
6. "Recognize hidden anxieties - Teenagers may act aloof and independent, but behind that facade, they might be harboring fears about how COVID-19 might affect them or those they love."
With proper guidance from parents during this pandemic, I am sure that our teenage sons and daughter will be able to cope with this era of covid-19 and finally go back to school soon equipped with knowledge about the pandemic.
To make sure that this school opening will make them happier, why not surprise them with a new study desk from FlexiSpot. The Height Adjustable Ergonomic Study Desk with its great features such as safe and robust construction, smooth surface. The height is easy to adjust with a light touch of the two-button up and down keypad making it easier for children to adjust the height of the desk for a perfect sitting position. Why not get one for your teenagers. This is a win-win solution.