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Even Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads: Why You Should Limit Technology Use for Your Kids

Even Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads: Why You Should Limit Technology Use for Your Kids

There’s no denying we live in a digital age. With a click of a button, we can access any bit of information ever known to humanity. With another click, we can end up wasting an hour of our day watching cats play piano. What I’m trying to say is that the prevalence of technology today is a double-edged sword.

While it’s easy enough for adults to become consumed by their iPads and smartphones, the real danger is raising children who are downright addicted to electronic screens. Even Steve Jobs, who invented all the best gadgets currently in your home, didn’t allow his children to use the iPad.

Others in the tech industry follow that same idea, sending their children to schools that strictly forbid the use of technology, instead encouraging face-to-face interaction and creative problem solving.

Though it might seem hypocritical for parents who utilize technology on a daily basis at their jobs to put a limit on their children’s use of the same technology, it’s hard to argue with the fact that using technology too much results in:

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1. A lack of creativity

When a young child plugs into the World Wide Web, everything is done for him. He can watch a cartoon, play a game, or get answers to his homework questions. If children are taught they can simply go to Google and get an answer to a question, they’ll more than likely stop trying to figure things out on their own. Especially if getting done quicker means they can go back to watching cartoons even sooner.

While it’s important to teach children how to use the Internet as a learning tool, it shouldn’t be the only method they use to solve problems. If they learn to rely too much on technology for answers, they’ll be completely lost when the technology is unavailable to them.

2. A lack of curiosity and passion

Along with a lack of curiosity, children who rely too much on technology will lose their passion for learning.

Remember before the Internet, when you wanted to know something, you actually had to spend a decent amount of time looking it up? You had to go to the library, find the right section, then the right book, then the right page…it took time! But when you finally got your answer, the entire experience left you feeling fulfilled. And that knowledge became part of your long-term memory.

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Now, if you need to know something, you can look it up immediately; and you’ll most likely forget it by the end of the day. Children need to understand that learning is a process. If we don’t limit their access to technology, they’ll never truly love to learn.

3. A lack of patience

Since information, communication, and entertainment are now available at the push of a button, we’re becoming less and less patient when we have to spend time waiting. I know I’m guilty of closing a webpage because it didn’t load within ten seconds. But I’m not the same way with most other aspects of life, because I know certain things take time (like cooking a good meal, or driving to the beach).

However, our children are growing up in a world filled with instant gratification. If they get too used to things being automated and happening “on demand,” they’ll have a hard time adjusting to the real world as they grow into young adults.

On the other hand, if parents limit their children’s use of technology and place ground rules around when and where they can use their iPad or laptop, they’ll learn much more than they would given free reign of the electronics in the household.

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4. Lack of exercise

It doesn’t take much to prove that sitting in front of a screen all day results in a sedentary lifestyle. And it will eventually become a vicious cycle that will be incredibly hard to break the older your child gets.

Children need to exercise every day. If parents don’t limit their children’s technology usage, they’ll spend all day sitting around the house, making up excuse after excuse as to why they can’t go outside and run around for a bit. Unfortunately, a lack of exercise at a young age could lead to exacerbated health problems as they grow.

5. Decreased test scores

The London School of Economics conducted a study of 130,000 school children, and found that test scores increase when schools put a limit on technology. Across the board, scores rose 6.4% when phones were banned in high schools.

Underachieving students actually faced a 14% increase in scores when their phones were disallowed in school. One of the main contributing factors to such a drastic increase is that students were no longer distracted on a minute-by-minute basis by their phone vibrating with constant Facebook updates and incoming text messages.

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Again, while electronics can serve a purpose in the classroom as a learning tool, if used incorrectly, they can be a huge disruption to the learning process.

6. Lack of human connection

Another study was recently conducted by researchers at UCLA  which focused on the use of technology and its effects on children’s ability to socialize face-to-face. Two groups of children were studied: one was a group of sixth grade students who were enrolled in a week-long educational camp which did not have any access to electronic devices, and the other group of sixth graders were kids who were left to their own devices, as it were.

After the week had ended, each group was shown pictures of people’s faces as they exhibited different emotions. The children who attended the technology-free camp performed significantly better at identifying the correct emotion shown. They were much more adept at picking out facial and non-verbal cues than their cohort who had spent the week using technology as they pleased.

If we want our children to understand the importance of communicating with each other in a personable manner, we need to begin by limiting their access to technology.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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