With the April school holidays just around the corner, it’s easy to justify kids spending many hours relaxing/vegging out watching TV or entertaining themselves by playing games on computers, cellphones, Playstation or Wii for days. They’re engaged, they’re entertained and out of their parent’s hair, and they’re not bored, but they are at risk of falling prey to Triple ‘S’ Syndrome says creative parenting expert Nikki Bush.
"Triple ‘S’ stands for a solitary, sedentary, screen-based existence, and with our busy lifestyles it’s easy for our children to fall into this trap because they are spending ever more time in front of a screen. I’m not saying that screens are bad for kids, but moderation is very important for balanced development.
Parents use screen based activities as a babysitter and an entertainer today. It’s convenient. But we must not forget that children need to socialise with others face-to-face to develop emotional intelligence.
The more children sit in front of a screen, the less they want to move. It gets harder to motivate them to go outside and play. Children need to move to create the neurological pathways for academic learning. The body is the architect of the brain. Incomplete learning requires therapeutic intervention.
Too much exposure to screen-based activities can be addictive, they stimulate the secretion of chemicals from the pleasure centre of the brain. Children also experience a false sense of achievement without having done much.
Children are increasingly viewing the world from a screen. Under the age of 12 a child has a developmental need to engage with the real and not the virtual world. Moderation and a good balance between on-screen and off-screen activities is important.
You’ll know your child has it if they have some of these symptoms:
- They are less responsive
- More belligerent and harder to discipline
- Harder to motivate to do anything other than interact with a screen
- If they are addicted and can’t live without a screen on
- If they lose their creativity and resourcefulness and haven’t a clue what to do when they are not in front of a screen (stimulates pleasure centre in the brain)
Ensure that you teach your children to continue to appreciate simple pleasures of life that are not screen-based, and can be done alone or together with you or a friend, such as:
- Building a jigsaw puzzle.
- Going ten pin bowling.
- Building a fort out of blankets, sheets and furniture.
- Cooking scrambled eggs together instead of becoming scrambled yourself.
- Making jelly.
- Baking homemade biscuits and decorating them.
- Blowing up balloons and drawing faces on them.
- Building a bonfire and telling stories around it at night.
- Playing hide and seek or 1, 2, 3 Block.
- Playing Stalk the Lantern.
- Making your own playdough.
- Putting a photo album together.
- Making a vision board together of hopes and dreams.
Lie on the grass and watch the clouds, finding shapes and objects within them.