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6 reasons why your children should put down their IPad and start art and craft activities.

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In the 21st century we’ve grown accustomed to the use of technology but is the overuse of technology affecting our children’s ability to learn, sleep, develop, and be creative? The short answer is yes but how exactly is addiction to these technologies affecting our children’s development?…and how can we action change with art and craft activities?

 

(1) Art and crafts stimulate children’s self-esteem.

The overuse of IPads, tablets and smartphones is proven to reduce your child’s ability to be happy. When using a tablet the brain releases too much dopamine, a chemical which results in the feeling of reward and satisfaction. The overuse of this chemical results in a reduced feeling of happiness, satisfaction and reward from day-to-day life, away from technology.

Arts and crafts on the other-hand are proven to stimulate a child’s self-esteem; by initially giving children a craft that can be completed by their age / skill level, they naturally feel a boost and sense of accomplishment from the completion of the creative task.

 

(2) Crafts are proven to motivate children and develop their communication skills.   

Children can begin to show signs of withdrawal when they are not on an electronic device, being demotivated to take part in other tasks, unwilling to interact or show interest in anything other than being online…this goes for adults too! Electronic devices are practically unavoidable in day-to-day life and therefore it isn’t about banning your child from using these technologies but controlling the time they spend using devices. It’s also important that children spend time completing tasks that develop their skills, such as creativity and interaction based tasks.

With the above concerns in mind, arts and crafts are a brilliant way to encourage your child’s creativity, as well as developing their ability to observe, describe and analyse reality. Arts and crafts are also a great way to develop communication, by not only following instructions but by socialising with a parent or friend whilst completing the activity. Therefore taking part in arts and crafts achieves a sense of happiness, accomplishment and self-esteem, contrary to the effects of overusing tablet and smartphone devices.

 

(3) Children’s fine motor skills can be honed and excelled by taking part in art and craft activities.

Kids are becoming more and more resistant to learning basic fine motor skills, now that technology is widely used from a young age. To put it in perspective the average toddler in the present day can use an electronic device before they are able to talk, or before they can use the toilet without wearing nappies. On the other-hand, the amount of children who start primary school without the ability to hold a pencil or crayon is on a dramatic rise.

Arts and crafts are a great way to develop fine motor skills, skills which are vital in order for a child to complete important basic tasks such as writing, feeding, buttoning or zipping. Simply stretching and moulding playdoh, drawing with crayons or bending craft pipe cleaners helps refine the small muscles in the hands, and develops hand-eye co-ordination, making day-to-day life more independently manageable for children.

 

(4) Crafts can inspire children to explore.  

It’s easily understandable that sitting on a chair all day and playing a video game or scrolling through Facebook can increase obesity, so it’s important to ensure your child has an active part of the day too. The average child under the age of 13 spends 10.5 hours a week on electronic devices and only 4 hours doing a physical sporting activity. That might not sound like much but when you compare it to your own childhood (on average playing outdoors 8.5 hours a week), suddenly the issue appears much more serious. This technology driven lifestyle trend is also affecting communities, children have less friends locally than their parents did and therefore less opportunities for fun outside their own home.

We know arts and crafts aren’t the most active of activities but actually the fundamental skills that can be learnt and developed from crafting, can inspire a child’s lust for life, learning and exploration of new ideas. Crafting doesn’t have to be an indoor activity however, why not go explore with your child, find natural materials and create a collage?… or go outside with a sketch pad, some pencils or crayons and let them interpret and draw what they see. Whatever way you inspire them with the outdoors, crafting regularly can naturally increase your children’s creativity and understanding of the world around them and as a result, inspire a more active outdoor lifestyle.

 

(5) Crafting increases children’s ability to learn, problem solve and think creatively.

Too much digital media can prevent the development of concentration levels in children, as well as their ability to memorise and learn effectively; it might sound sinister but it’s a reality, children are getting ‘digital dementia’. In the early stages of child development, the ability to understand and take in new ideas and process them logically, should grow rapidly, equipping them with vital skills.    Over-exposing kids to digital media will increase the age at which children learn these vital skills. Equally as worrying, digital technologies are proven to be detrimental to rapid brain growth in children from 0 to 2 years.

Creative tasks on the other-hand will increase your children’s ability to learn, problem solve and to think outside the box. So for example they have to work out “How do I turn this lump of clay into a model or sculpture?” They are problem solving without realising it and this will ultimately develop their reasoning and understanding of the world.

Arts and crafts will also encourage your child to collaborate and communicate with others (or you as a parent), sharing knowledge and ideas and therefore learning, and adapting to various points of view and cultures.  They will learn perseverance, patience and focus.

 

(6) Your own use of technology as a parent impacts your child too!

As a parent it is your responsibility to set examples to your children and they will pick up on both your good and bad habits; using an IPad at the dinner table, checking your emails in bed or simply being sucked into the Internet for far too long – don’t make this normal to them. It’s also proven that using electronic media in bed, whether checking Facebook or watching TV for any amount of time will affect your ability to sleep and increase irritableness.

Demonstrating and taking part in regular activities that stimulate learning and development is sure to increase your child’s ability to be happy, be creative, solve problems and have a lust for exploration and a general willingness to learn. Whether you fulfill those abilities through arts and crafts, reading and writing or by other means, don’t let electronic devices affect or dictate your child’s mood, development or willingness to take part in tasks outside of the realm of electronic media and most importantly, don’t let it affect your relationship and authority as parent.

 

Below is an age by age guideline to effectively control your child’s use of electronic devices and media, paediatric occupational therapist Chris Rowan:

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