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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

(Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from Maxine who has a great challenge for all parents. Thanks, Maxine!)

With the convenience that technology gives us, we are almost always tempted to rely on gadgets for everything we do. But while technological innovations have helped humankind to improve their standards of living, a number of these gadgets have brought added stress, negated creative and intuitive thinking, and have also made us less healthy. Nowadays, it’s so all laid out for kids – they don’t have to figure things out or solve problems any more. Here are a few things you can encourage your kids to do so they will not be completely reliant on technology:

  • Reading a traditional book vs. watching a movie vs. e-book

    Reading a book far outweighs watching a movie. Because books are made in a symbolic medium, they actively engage the reader’s mind as the words need to be interpreted in light of each individual reader’s ideas and life experience. With books, the possibilities are limitless. It is up to the reader to re-create in his mind the writer’s story, providing the look and feel of people and places, the emotional weight of events, the quality of the voices, the tempo and meaning of each exchange of dialog or activity. On the contrary, no matter how breathtaking or overwhelming a movie maybe, the audience is still limited to the creativity of the writers, actors, and director.

    Reading from a screen is also different than from pages of a traditional book. Studies show that reading the printed book was more relaxing than using electronic devices and that people can read traditional printed books a good deal faster than eBooks on tablet computers.

  • Using a paper map instead of GPS

    A study comparing paper map users versus GPS found that people on foot using a GPS device make more errors and take longer to reach their destinations than people using an old-fashioned map. Another study found GPS users made more stops, walked farther and more slowly than
    map users and demonstrated a poorer knowledge of the terrain, topography and routes taken when asked to sketch a map after their walks. GPS users also had much more difficulty in finding their ways than did paper map users.

    Studies by the British Cartographic Society also show that high-tech maps get the user from Point A to Point B but leave off traditional features such as historical landmarks, government buildings and cultural institutions. This could lead to a loss of cultural and geographic literacy in your children. Mapping a route teaches your children problem-solving skills, as well as helps them relate what they see on a map to the reality before them. In addition, the battery in the GPS can die or the GPS itself could malfunction. It is always handy to have a navigation strategy that includes a backup to GPS whenever possible.

  • Cooking instead of buying frozen/pre-packed meals

    Instead of eating all of the unhealthy preservatives and chemicals in prepackaged meals, have your children become involved in cooking their meals. Fresh food tastes better; it also retains certain nutrients, such as fiber, that may be diminished during processing.

    Buying pre-packaged food might be easier and quicker, but it is not always cheaper. Studies show that people who rely heavily on pre-packaged meals and fast food have greater risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than those who cook fresh food. The drugs for these diseases are costly, and to prevent them doctors recommend a balanced diet and exercise. A strong body usually translates into higher self-esteem and a child who is more active and engaged with life. Cooking not only teaches your child about chemistry and physiology (the body’s reaction to certain foods), it teaches them healthy habits. It also teaches survival skills and mathematical skills, and it can be a creative outlet. Taking the time to nurture the body feels good, and that has a positive ripple effect on the rest of your child’s life.

  • Sending handwritten thank you instead of email

    In such a fast-paced world, children must learn the value of slowing down, the value of a personal touch, and the value of sincerity. A hand-written note forces the former and expresses the latter. The child must sit, reflect on the gift and the giver, and convey his feelings. Doing positive acts positively affects a child’s life, and similar to cooking, nurturing the soul in such a way has that favored ripple effect.

    Hand-writing a thank you note has a sense of deliberateness about it that email lacks. A personalized handwritten note, regardless of how brief, tells the gift-giver how much the recipient appreciated the gift, and how it will be cherished for years to come. As a general rule,
    no computers should be used in thank-you note writing, as it looks impersonal. Whenever you receive a gift, send a handwritten note communicating that you appreciate the time, expense and effort someone made on your behalf. And most importantly, teach your
    children to do the same.

  • Playing real sports instead of Wii

    Although certainly better than sitting on the couch, the Wii sports games are not as effective in burning calories as real sports, according to a study by the American Council on Exercise. Compared to golfing at a driving range (3.9 calories per minute), playing Wii Golf burned 0.8 calories less per minute. Actual bowling burns nearly twice as much (7.2 calories per minute) as Wii Bowling, while baseball burns 7.3 calories per minute and Wii Baseball burns 2.8 calories per minute less. Similarly, Wii Tennis burns 2.8 calories per minute less than the actual game (8.1 calories per minute). Finally, Wii Boxing burns about 3.0 calories per minute less than conventional sparring at 10.2 calories per minute.

    Wii also falls short in terms of social interaction, because it lacks other players with whom your child can interact. The benefits of being on a sports team also teach discipline, problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, strategizing skills, the ability to focus on others, and offers him a mentor in the form of a coach, and a lasting sense of accomplishment. Computer games offer none of these.

    The human mind benefits from all kinds of stimulation, so instead of using technology that limits cognitive input, consider doing some tasks the old method. Tell your kids that changing the way they do things will require commitment and planning, but the rewards are worthwhile.

Maxine is a dedicated mother who believes in raising children who can thrive in a variety of circumstances. She is focused to keeping herself and her family healthy mentally and physically which she feels go hand in hand. When not with her family, she works for Treetopia, a seller of artificial Christmas trees. They sell a variety of unique and inspired Christmas trees for every style.

Image courtesy of mynameismarsha via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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