Highly engaging activities wreak havoc on your ability to manage time effectively, as you surely know if you’ve ever gotten so caught up with a book, TV, or surfing the Internet, that you forgot about something important, like cooking the family dinner, or making an important appointment.
For our kids, the powerfully immersive and engaging digital technologies that grab their attention (for an average of 7 hours 38 minutes a day for children ages 8-18, according to the Kaiser Foundation), can cause major difficulties in Time Management. While parents can and should try to set limits on these activities with their kids, it has become increasingly difficult to do so as the technologies have become more mobile and readily available to children.
We can lecture our kids about wasting time on Facebook, texting, or playing video games, but they might be too immersed in their electronics to notice. We are more likely to help them by modeling our own technological time management skills. Demonstrating how to limit our own digital engagement allows parents to have opportunities to interact with family, pursue a hobby, engage in socially meaningful activities, and simply hang out with their kids.
Here are a few strategies where you can model good Time Management and prioritization while using digital tools with your kids.
- Play video games with them, but limit the amount of time that you spend doing so. End the gameplay by commenting on how much fun it was, while directing and engaging the kids in an alternative, non-electronic activity.
- Create a family calendar using Cozi, a free online calendar that helps you to jointly manage family schedules, shopping lists, vacations and after school activities.
- Actively talk about the technologies that help you save time and energy so that you are more available to do things with your kids or to engage in hobbies and social activities. For example, talk about activities such like using a GPS instead of physical maps, or doing research online rather than going to the library.
- Play a game that taxes your Time Management skills with your child. Games such as Dungeon Defenders require that you not only pay attention to the clock, but also that you prioritize your actions to be most effective in game play. Your goal in this game is to protect a crystal in the center of the stage, but you’ve got a limited amount of time to place your defenses. Use a wide array of attack towers and defensive structures to protect your crystal and power up your character before time’s up!