By Top Contributor Dr. Judy Yaron
Smartphones, Smart Kids, Smart Leaders
3 simple activities to turn fr*cken phone foes to family friends forever
You arrive home. Late. Not your fault. After work you rushed to the drycleaner to pick up your wife’s suit for her presentation tomorrow, and then to the grocer’s to stock up on your kids’ favorite lunchbox snacks. Then, you thought, while you’re at it, why not buy some frozen yogurt for dessert? You envision how delighted they’ll be. You’re hungry, tired and dying to piss. You drop the groceries on the counter and with wobbly legs and your wife’s dry cleaning dangling from your teeth, you barely make it. You were kind of hoping to be received with smiles, hugs and dinner on the table, or at least a “Hey, dad!” and a wave.
Nada. Nothing. Zilch.
As you zoom by the family room, heading to the toilet before you explode, out of the corner of your eye you see them – all four of them: your three kids and wife – sitting in a row on the couch, each glued to a screen. Not a budge. Not a nod or a sign of life. Oblivion.
If only they’d get off those fr*cken phones!
Apart from the immediate dangers of smartphones – addiction, sexting, cyber bullying and the perils of lurking on social media – smartphones and tablets are robbing our kids of their imagination and creativity. And if that’s not enough, they are restricting their problem solving and communication skills and restraining their connectivity and ability to build genuine F2F relationships. These traits are fundamental for young adults stepping out into the world, not only to become leaders among women and men, but to take control of their own destinies and lead lives they can call their own.
Let’s face it. Smartphones are here to stay. They’re as much part of our kids’ lives as lunchboxes and carrot sticks. So, despite all your fears and concerns, which no one denies are justifiable, you might as well accept the fact as a given and deal with it. As the old adage prescribes, “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em!”
The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot to set kids on track. As moms and dads, a little push can go a long way. Nudge ’em gently in the right direction and turn ’em loose! They’ll know what to do next, and if they don’t, they will figure it out.
The three activities presented here are simple and fun. They are applicable to smartphone kids of all ages and can be conducted almost anywhere any time. What’s more, you can repeat them again and again with variations to raise the bar and increase the challenges.
Family Show And Tell
When they’re not texting, kids are playing games or watching YouTube videos. What do you, as a parent, really know about the content, they find so mesmerizing? Family Show and Tell can help you find out.
Gather together round the dinner table or in the living room. The presenter is invited to stand before the group and share a favorite game or video: what it’s all about as well as why they have chosen to present it. The audience, in turn, is encouraged to ask questions.
This simple activity not only practices public speaking, presentation skills, listening to others and asking questions, it gives you a closer peek into your kids’ worlds, allows you to challenge their choices and introduce content you would like to share with them.
Growing up with immediate access to information in the palm of one’s hand has certainly changed the way kids think. In fact, sometimes kids forget why they were given a brain and how much fun it is to use it! Why think, if you can Google it?
Gather together. Choose a topic, for example: “What can you do with empty milk cartons?” and brainstorm together. Appoint one member of the family to be the scribe and list all of the ideas. Challenge yourself to see how many different ideas you can come up with. When done, conduct an Internet search and compare your findings with your list. How many original ideas have you come up with?
Apart from enhancing creative thinking, this activity demonstrates the power of team work and how far you can go when bouncing ideas off one another.
The ability to give clear and concise instructions not only sets leaders apart from others, but also distinguishes between professionals and wannabees. No matter how good your idea is, no matter how well-intentioned your message, if you can’t get it across intelligibly, it’s worth nothing.
Every participant holds a phone or a tablet. Open a map app and choose a starting point. Make sure that everyone is on the same page at the same location.
One player is the navigator. The navigator chooses a destination, but does not reveal it to the others. The navigator then gives directions how to reach the destination. When done, the players compare the destinations they have reached.
In addition to practicing giving directions, this activity practices listening as well as spatial thinking and basic navigation and map skills.
Bottom line, it doesn’t take much to turn fr*cken phone foes to family friends forever.
Just do it!
Dr. Judy Yaron
Dr. Judy Yaron comes to you with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in raising kids: a PhD in Educational Leadership and a teaching career that spreads over forty years and three continents. Dr. Yaron can say that she is proud of her kids and where they are in their own life journeys; she believes that leadership starts at home and runs a leadership program for parents and kids. Find out more about Dr Judy at www.Time2Lead.Club and follow Dr Judy on Twitter @time2leadclub.