How do you create a device-free environment for children? The future of the ummah depends on this!
It's not easy, but there are plenty of reasons to go on this journey for your kids. My wife and I have alhamdulillah been able to keep our young boys free from "device-brain."
The main reason to keep young children away from devices is that they will negatively impact them cognitively. Don't let children under 2 especially near TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc. Older children too. All these devices have been linked to speech delays, ADHD, and other negative cognitive effects for children. This is serious stuff.
What some don't understand about this is they wrongly assume the issue is with the content on said devices. But even if you have the most wholesome, Islamic content, it doesn't matter. The flashing images on a screen are what harm children. Which is not to say that plenty of content adds an additional level of harm.
Many parents use devices as useful distractions. Raising kids is very time consuming and very tiring. It is hard to entertain kids and keep them occupied for any stretch of time. So parents find it easy to just give the kids a smartphone to play with or to turn on the TV. My wife and I also have faced this temptation time and again. But you must resist for the good of your children.
Part of the problem we found was that we put too much of the burden on ourselves to constantly "entertain" our kids. At a certain age (around 1.5 years or so), kids need to learn to entertain and occupy themselves for at least some amount of time, whether it is 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour per day. This is a part of healthy development and it takes practice to get a child to that level of self-sufficiency. But it is soo crucial! Otherwise you will go insane.
Devices, however, stunt this development. It makes kids dependent on flashy, attention-grabbing entertainment and this dulls their senses and makes it more difficult for them to be interested in and occupied by things happening in the real world: blocks, coloring books, story books, nature, dolls, roughhousing, human interaction in general, etc.
One example. My wife takes the boys to the local library regularly. In the children's area, they have these computers for kids to use and play games on. On one particular day, there was construction happening outside the library with big trucks and bulldozers, etc. The boys were glued to the window, watching all this construction. They were mesmerized by it and sat and watched for nearly an hour straight. There were lots of other kids in that section of the library that day, but they didn't really have interest in what was happening outside. The computers had monopolized all their attention and interest.
So how do you practically keep a device-free area for your kids? Here are some things we have done:
1. We don't have a TV. If you do have a TV, keep it in the parents' bedroom. Same with computers and laptops. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. We taught our kids from a young age that the smartphone is not a toy and they can't touch it. This is an important boundary to set. If you can avoid having the smartphone around at all, that would be better, but that might not always be practical depending on your situation. Nonetheless, your kids should know that the smartphone is for adults only.
3. We do let the kids talk to relatives using skype and other video conferencing apps. But only when we are around to control the device being used. There's not a problem with this as this is not the kind of flashy video with fast moving images that is harmful for kids.
4. What about relatives who have TV in their homes and you're always visiting? This can be tricky, but relatives can be understanding if you talk to them about the reasons. If they can turn off the TV on your visits for the sake of the kids, that is best. The adults might benefit from the peace and quiet too!
Admittedly, these tips are best for young kids. If you have older kids who have already gotten used to devices, then I don't have practical experience to share on how to address that since my kids are under 6. I guess you could always cut the cord or stop paying your kids exorbitant smartphone bill :)
By Brother Daniel Haqiqatjou.
Source: Social Media