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Should Parents Give Tech Gadgets to Their Kids as Toys?

Should Parents Give Tech Gadgets to Their Kids as Toys?

How techie do you want your children to be?

Should you be giving your child technological gadgets as toys? While there is no major study that argues to either side, many parents still wonder if this is right or wrong in terms of early childhood development. We live in a high-tech world and many want their children to be “tech savvy” from a young age while other parents are afraid that introduction to tech toys can lead to seclusion or a replacement of social interaction with the internet. Steve Jobs, for example, said that he knew the dangers of technology first hand and therefore did not want his children to have similar experiences, stating that he had not given them an iPad. Professor Mark Brown, a director of Massey’s National Center for Teaching and Learning, explained that a child must learn the use of computers and tablets, as it will be essential to develop technological proficiency for future jobs, (Technology Essential To Children’s Success, Professor Says, Massey University archives). Whatever our reasons are, it is fair to suggest that the children can either benefit or be harmed by playing with technology depending on the extent and length of that interaction.

Let’s look at some pros of giving tech gadgets as toys to kids:

Parents can get some needed peace and quiet

Today, there are technological toys and gadgets ranging from learning apps, alphabets and live aquariums, to robotic pets such as Ubooly, to Nabi 2 toddlers can literally chew on, tablets, iPads, you name it, it’s there. Parents of small children can use these tech gadgets when driving in a car in rush hour traffic. The pros are clear in some instances where the adults simply need silence and five minutes of peace. You probably are willing to hear Frozen‘s “Let It Go” for a thousandth time for as long as your children do not scream bloody murder strapped in their car seats.

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Helping Brain development and increasing learning activities

As mentioned earlier there are infinite amounts of useful applications a child can utilize to help his or her brain development, from SudokuKids to Sparky’s Adventures by Fit Brain to Pilo3, an interactive children’s story book in 3D. Open Solutions, for example, calls its Baby First Puzzle Farm a form of education, a “new and innovative” one for babies. There is an ocean of great information out there for a child to not only gain knowledge from but also to help the child become technologically savvy. Let’s face it, the child’s homework in high school and college at least will involve doing research on a computer and using the Internet, so why not start early so a child is ready to switch focus from one tech form into another.

Music, Books and Digital Interaction

Today a child can be exposed to classical music masterpieces and learning compositions with a push of a button on a phone or a tablet. Similarly, a child can use devices and tech toys such as Bluetooth enabled headphones,listening to audio books, and engaging in interactive touch books that are made for smaller children. There is a world of knowledge out there and listening to wide varieties of music can only enhance your child’s memorization. It has been found that children remember things better when they are set to musical beat (Sawyers & Hutson-Brandhagen, 2004). Moreover, exposure to music helps children develop rhythm, proliferate coordination, and helps them create another form of communication through music (Ferguson, 2005).

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 So what are the cons of tech gadgets as toys?

Too much technology can lead to distraction

There is no doubt that parents must supervise their children with the usage of technology. Prolonged exposure (hours and hours a day), and overload of techie fun can lead a child to disorientation, anxiety and emotional “numbness,” explained Mali Mann, Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine. Furthermore, Mann says that technology relied on too much with children can lead them to technological addiction.

Cyber bullying and predators

A child is an easy target for sexual predators and on-line bullying. With cases well known about the dangers of the Internet world, parents must be careful, and be aware of their children’s on-line activities. Some parents are not even aware of this but did you know that almost 43 percent of children were bullied on line, 1 in 4 experienced it more than once according with DoSomething.org organization this year alone? If this does not scare you, just read the countless stories of parents losing their teenage children to suicide due to cyber bulling. Do you know if and where your child chats online? Could they fall into a trap of a sexual predator? Unfortunately yes, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations warned that it is through cyber chats that children are most likely to become the target of a predator. The FBI stated that children who spend large amounts of time in on-line chat rooms are at most risk, especially during the evening hours. The Bureau also warned that while parental controls are the tools parents should utilize, they should not rely on them alone, and should monitor a child’s chat room closely, i.e. it must be “heavily monitored” (FBI.org).

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Substituting people with “toys”, or social withdrawal

If a child spends significant amounts of time on video games for example, this robs from his or her play time and social time outside or even time with parents. There is no doubt that technology, while beneficial to children in terms of learning and social development, can also lead to negative social withdrawals if the times spent on the devices are not controlled by the parents. Many experts say that instead of more tech toys kids are in need of attention and actual good old playtime. Peter Gray, a psychologist and research professor at Boston College, noted that lack of playtime, or “play deprivation,” is bad for children as it may foster “suicide, narcissism, and loss of creativity.”

While there are no definitive conclusions reached or studies done on the effect of technological toys on kids being infinitely bad or great, one thing is most certain, that it is up to parents to draw the line in its usage. In the century we live in it is unarguably important to get a good grasp of technology. How early should we introduce it to children and should we as parents give children various technological gadgets as toys is a matter of balance at the end of the day. Technology is great for children provided they have a healthy balance of school, playtime, parents’ time, study time and so forth.

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So what can you do?

Research psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen suggested actively giving children time with you: playing video games with them, talking to them about using technology in healthy ways, encouraging breaks from usage of devices, and family time. The togetherness aspect will increase parental interaction. All these little things will give a parent more control and understanding of where their children’s interests lie in technology and which gadgets should be altered or removed, revisited or revised. The bottom line is, today we cannot afford to ignore the power of technology over our lives, and therefore, we must not overlook its effect on our children.

Featured photo credit: https://flic.kr/p/7QBsAh via flic.kr

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie, can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life, it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share with you 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world, people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear, like so many other emotions, can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr. Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car, or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly, if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However, it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worst was to happen, what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to hold someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm, or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worst were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worst did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worst were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through its wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold, Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right, I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people, we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however, they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in World War II. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards, how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind, he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music, hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded me that nothing stays the same and I can find a way.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my client’s life felt? No. However, it gave them a moment of calm, and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however, it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worst

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed? Think about what age it may have made them feel?Think about how they feel about champagne? What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head, convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past, that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before, I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that client’s words, “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article, you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right! I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that, can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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