Although times are changing, universal values and morals remain a constant. However, the ways in which we teach our young ones how to apply them to their lives in a meaningful way is changing. Older generations grew up in a non digital world where acts of kindness and love were expressed between neighbours, school friends and anyone else within physical proximity. Yet, in the digital age we live in today, these values need to transcend the physical and be nurtured into the online space as well.
Children learn through observation and this remains unchanged. To young developing minds, the actions of parents literally create a mirror effect for patterns of activity that stay with them for life. When the young mind is not yet developed enough to comprehend words, body language, eye contact and tone of voice is what helps them better understand the world around them.
That is why it is so important to understand how the digital world can affect them. Below are some simple tricks to creating a balance household of digital use that not only help early childhood development, but inspire meaningful conversation and acts of virtue.
- Use screen time for educational purposes, rather than pure entertainment. Children are eager to learn from any facet presented to them. Instead of providing them with digital games exclusively, always try to incorporate an educational aspect, be in math, language or shows that exemplify moral values through acts of kindness.
- Don’t use screens before bed-time. It is widely known that the blue light of screens suppresses a child’s melatonin supply needed for them to get drowsie, hence this does not help children get a good night’s sleep. Try substituting bed-time with a soft toy, a book, or just the sound of your voice telling them a story.
- Reduce the background chatter. Background noise from TV or tablet greatly interferes with the words adults utter, potentially stunting language development. Substitute this with a calm jazz playlist at the end of a long day. This will help them relax, unwind and tune into the parent’s voices.
- Embrace the family over meal-times. Screens during mealtime creates bad habits that are linked to overeating as well as delayed social and language skills. Children need to be indulged in family conversations in order to develop social skills. A great way to develop meaningful conversation over dinner time would be to share example across the table of what acts of kindness you observed or even instigated during the day.
Constant reflection is key. As the days go by and we find ourselves consumed with our daily errands, children might often feel the same way in their own capacity. A great way to instil meaningful values in a child’s mind is to regularly engage in reflection with them. Silence the noise of the digital world, shut off the chatter, and ask your children meaningful questions about their day. Creating the habit of regular reflection will go a long way.