With so much technology filling our everyday lives, one of the biggest challenges of modern parenting is making sure our kids create more content than they consume.
Screens are everywhere, so if we’re not careful, our children can easily be blasted with all sorts of content from all sorts of sources. Another way to put it: it’s way too easy for our kids to become constant consumers.
There’s plenty of evidence that our kids are consuming insane amounts of technology, and that it’s starting at an early age. For example, this study in 2014 released the following results:
Most households had television (97%), tablets (83%), and smartphones (77%). At age 4, half the children had their own television and three-fourths their own mobile device. Almost all children (96.6%) used mobile devices, and most started using before age 1. Parents gave children devices when doing house chores (70%), to keep them calm (65%), and at bedtime (29%). At age 2, most children used a device daily and spent comparable screen time on television and mobile devices. Most 3 and 4-year-olds used devices without help, and one-third engaged in media multitasking.
The good news? The same tools that lead to all that consumption also let kids of all ages create content. There are tons of apps, games, and toys available that encourage imagination and creativity.
It is with the proper use of these tools that we can help our children develop a positive relationship with technology by becoming active creators.
Here are 5 fun and simple ways to encourage your child to be a creator.
Is your child a musician?
This one is obvious to us music moms, eh? Most kids love music right out of the womb, so transferring that love into creation isn’t hard when they’re little. You can record sounds using everyday items such as spoons, pots, salt shakers – whatever!
When it’s time to progress a bit and your child is ready for actual instruments, you can take the sweet sounds they make (or that they will eventually make) and let them experiment with sound. Older kids can use all sorts of tech tools to help write their own tunes and master their craft.
When they’re ready to start laying down some tracks, your kids can easily record, edit, and share their output with friends and family.
Is your child a storyteller?
Storytelling seems to be a natural activity. As soon as kids start talking, many are eager to tell tales. Use this innate inclination to encourage them to narrate their activities.
While they play, build, or wander, ask them questions that allow them to create a narrative. Questions such as “What are you building?” and “Where are you going when you climb that tree?” are invitations to open their imaginations.
Tech-wise, there are lots of apps that let kids record their stories and create digital books. If this all sounds too good to be true, rest assured that I am not telling any tall tales!
Is your child a director?
Pretty much all children love to watch television and movies. Most of them don’t know that they can actually be a part of the fun.
If you’ve seen your child use his toys as characters in a story, they are already acting as a director. Encourage that skill by having them play around with animated storytelling apps that let them record a mini-movie with movable characters, props, and settings.
If your kids are older, introduce them to more advanced stop-motion animation apps. It’s then up to you whether or not they try to go viral by posting their content online.
Is your child an artist?
If your kid is naturally artistic, it doesn’t take much prompting to get her to draw or paint. Eventually, though, she will want to take things to the next level. Try giving her even more inspiration with apps that feature famous painters, sculptors, and designers.
For kids who love comics or manga, there are programs that enable them to create their own cartoon characters, panels, and dialogue balloons.
There’s a little bit of everything out there, so every young artist-in-the-making should have plenty of opportunities for creative exploration.
Is your child an author?
The days of pencil and paper will never be totally gone, but the first steps to becoming an author sure have changed. Apps like Book Creator are extremely kid-friendly, so kids can easily create while writing a story.
As for what type of story that might be, it might be something as simple as the recent weekend outing you went on as a family. Thanks to modern technology, your child can then make his or her book interactive by adding images, audio, and video to it.
The last step is to publish and share your kid’s book with family and friends – and maybe even with a publishing company or two, if you think it’s good enough!
So, now that you know all this…
Technology is so incredibly powerful – almost as powerful as your child’s creativity. When you put the two together and give your child the tools and freedom to find inspiration and direct his or her own learning, you will be amazed at what they are able to do.
Creating with technology is an adventure, one that’s even more exciting and beneficial than consuming it.