Updated: May 1
According to a recent study from the Microsoft Corporation,
the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 8. This drop began in 2000, coinciding with the beginning of the mobile revolution.
As a means of comparison, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of 9 seconds.
Eight seconds! And that's the average! Not a lot of time to give to learning, conversing, meditating, whatever. It's no wonder that we have to redirect out kids' attention a gazillion times as the classroom moved to the home. Makes one appreciate teachers even more.
Oh, to be a goldfish!
TV, cell phones, computers, tablets, we are an electronic society, there is just no getting around it. It is recommended that everyone spends an hour a day screen-free and that there are screen-free zones in the house, especially the dinner table and the bedroom. Ideally, all should go at least one day a week unplugged. I break into a sweat when I'm not near my phone for 5 minutes; a whole day seems impossible!
And for those of you who feel the need to "get a leg up" with online learning sites and games, there are side effects. Studies show that screens can disrupt a child's ability to sleep, raise their risk for attention problems, anxiety, and depression, and obesity.
The question is, "What would you do instead?"
Do something! Anything! Preferably outside. And something that involves using both hands. If you can't?
I had to dig way back to when my kids were young and we spent the entire summer without TV, cell phones, or anything else with a screen. The memories were good. There was so much to do and fun times spent (mostly outdoors) that it was hard to choose - but I thought about what they did most on those rainy days when being out all day was just not possible.
Here are the top five:
BOARD GAMES: Remember board games? Monopoly, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Risk, Parcheesi, and too many more to name. Playing builds math skills, patience, sequencing, counting, resiliency and so much more.
CARDS: War, Rummy, Uno, Hearts, Go Fish....and the list goes on and on. Card games can enhance math and memory skills, as well as strategic thinking.
COOK: Cooking is an excellent activity to build skills. Measuring, following the sequence of a recipe, watching chemical changes as ingredients are mixed things helps to develop Math, Science, and Reading acuity. Cooking with kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences for all involved.
GET CREATIVE: Get out the crayons, markers, glue. Add some scissors, old magazines or catalogs, and imagination. If you're really brave - bring out the glitter. Think of a theme or go freestyle. Leave the judgment elsewhere. Just create!
READ: Read to your child. Read with your child. Stories, magazines, comics, recipes -- anything. Just read together. Reading with and to your child is a bonding experience that opens doors to information and imagination. It fosters discussions, expands the minds, develops verbal ability, improves focus, concentration, and memory, and is entertaining.
"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." — Stacia Tauscher
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Mary Kerwin is an expert in helping kids to develop the confidence and self-esteem skills that they need to thrive now and grow into happy, confident, successful adults. She is a wife, mother of 4, teacher, and both a Certified Health Coach and founder of Confident Families. Her life’s work has been in Education, spending more than 40 years as a classroom teacher. Her mission has always been to foster and develop each child to see their unlimited potential.
Her work with PARENTS gives them the skill set needed to stop making parenting decisions from a place of FEAR, INDECISION, AND GUILT, and start parenting confidently from their hearts. She is committed to helping children to shine, overcome obstacles, and live the life of their dreams and want to enlist the adults in their lives to do the same.
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