With Singapore having one of the world's highest smartphone penetration rate in the world, it is perhaps inevitable that kids here are exposed to screen devices at a much earlier age than we parents would have liked.
So while I'm sure that most parents are already aware of the dangers of prolonged exposure to electronic devices, I think we could do with a little more help when it comes to having positive opportunities for the whole family to bond through engaging, offline activities.
So in order to help parents better connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices, Nutella is launching the ‘Un-Plug to Play’ campaign as part of their brand social responsibility programme, which was designed to encourage and support parents.
To advocate active families and emphasise the importance of an active lifestyle in a child’s development, the Nutella Active Family Experts panel will also be introduced to give ideas and encourage parents to connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices. And I am extremely honoured to be one of the three Active Family Experts to be selected for this campaign!
Read more of my interview with Nutella HERE.
The other two include Dr Janice Wong, Paediatrician at Thomson Paediatric Centre and Ms Kareen Lai, Founder and Head Coach at Mums In Sync. Together, we bring a wealth of experience spanning medical knowledge, fitness and parenting and will come together to give ideas and encourage parents to connect with their children without the distraction of electronic devices.
To help parents, we have come up with a few rules as the basis of helping parents have a fulfilling time with their children:
1. Quality time over Quantity
There is a difference between spending time with your child and having that time be legitimate quality time. Just because you are physically with your child doesn’t mean that you are, in fact, spending quality time together. Being in the living room while your child is watching television and you checking emails would not constitute quality time.
Quality time means enrichment time that is highly interactive and engaging. These moments are an investment in the relationship between parent and child. According to psychologists, there are four key ingredients to a successful playtime between parents and children: education, inspiration, integration and communication.
Because we are all busy, so focus on quality and identify pockets of time to connect with your child. Take a few minutes every day to really listen and participate in a conversation or activities with you kids - it can be on the way to school or having a conversation over dinner (no TV or smartphones allowed of course!).
2. It IS okay to PLAY
Albert Einstein famously said, “Play is the highest form of research.” and who am I to argue with him? Kids will be kids, and they love playing so engage them in activities that encourage their sense of curiosity, enthusiasm and energy.
Got kids but don't where to go? Here is where I will shamelessly promote my new book, 'Got Kids, Go Where?'! Containing a whopping 500 family-friendly activities for you to take your pick from, from play, heritage, nature, eating places to even short trips out of Singapore, each listing in the book have been specially picked for its family-friendly nature.
Personally, I find it more fun when we get out of the house and do something together as a family. It may be at the museum, a park or just a simple playground but we do bond more compared to being copped up at home. Oh, and do seek your kids’ input on how to spend family time too as they often have good ideas!
3. Be a Role Model
What kind of example are we setting for our kids when we parents are swiping at our smartphones at the dinner table? Yes, I'm guilty as charged as well. That is why I have resolved to put down my electronic devices when not needed and show my monkies that they have my utmost attention when I am spending time with them - without a screen.
And in line with the ‘Un-Plug to Play’ campaign which emphasises the importance of play in a child’s development, Nutella will be organising a special afternoon of games and activities for families on 4 July 2015!
Families will be able to take part in game stations with analogue versions of popular games and compete as a team to win attractive prizes. This is a chance for parents to bond and connect with their children without the distraction of electronic gadgets. And a prerequisite to take part? Phones must be switched off to play!
So put those phones and tablets away on 4 July 2015 and give your child an opportunity to connect with you. What's more, pre-register for the event HERE to be eligible for a special lucky draw!
Nutella Un-Plug to Play
Date: 4 July 2015, Saturday
Time: 11am - 9pm
Venue: United Square Shopping Mall
Visit www.facebook.com/nutellasg for more information.