6 Low Tech Things You Should Do With Your Kids
For better or for worse, we all live in a completely tech-dominated world these days, where the noise and static are just never-ending, and where it can easily seem to be all but impossible to just take a step back and catch your breath once in a while.
Technology does bring with it many benefits. We can, for the first time ever, communicate with our loved ones on the other side of the globe at a moment’s notice. But it’s impossible to deny the fact that there are some strong downsides to the complete prevalence of technology, as well, with studies showing that people are increasingly depressed, alienated, distracted and anxious these days — especially those who spend a lot of time on social media.
In the case of adults, we count on them to make their own informed decisions about the role that these technologies play in their lives. In the case of children, however, things are very different. Kids are far more susceptible to the lure of screens and gadgets, far less capable of making informed decisions about their technology use, and perhaps most worryingly of all — research has found evidence that children who spend a lot of time using tools like smartphones and tablets are at higher risk of experiencing emotional and social issues in life.
As a parent, therefore, it’s a great idea to have a few ideas of the kinds of low-tech things you could, and should, be doing with your kids on a regular basis.
Here are a few ideas.
Encourage them to read books...and read to them
Getting your kids into a regular reading habit at a young age is easily one of the most meaningful things you can do for them, and can set them up for a good deal of success and fulfillment in later life.
Various commentators have noted that, in the digital age, people’s attention spans seem to suffer quite dramatically as a result of too much time spent surfing different sites, and not enough time spent reading long-form writing in good old-fashioned books.
Buy your child a selection of uplifting books for children — ideally the kinds of books that contain fairly advanced narrative themes for the age group, along with promoting the sorts of values that you want your children to adopt and embody.
Read to your children to get them to appreciate the wonder of the written word. A standard bed-time story is an excellent way to start. The more your children read books, the more their imaginations will flourish, and the more deeply they’ll be encouraged to think about various topics. TV shows, on the other hand, represent a far more passive form of entertainment, and brain scans have shown that different parts of the brain are activated when reading a book than when watching a program.
Go Camping in nature without any tablets, portable tvs, radios or gadgets
When we go wandering in nature, we open ourselves up to the rhythm and harmony of the natural world — that place that we all originate from, and that connects us to all the other living organisms and systems that make up the complicated web of life on earth.
Research has frequently shown that people who spend more time in nature are happier, healthier, and more content than those who remain habitually cooped up inside, and some research has even suggested that hospital patients recover faster if they can see a tree from the window of their room.
Taking your kids camping out in nature, ideally in a relatively wild area, rather than an over-crowded commercial campsite, is an excellent way of helping them to regain their sense of connection to the world and its cycles. Just be sure to leave behind the tablets, portable TVs, radios, and other gadgets — with the exception of a phone kept in your rucksack for emergencies and maybe a torch.
Not only will camping help to slow your children’s racing thoughts down and put them back in harmony with the ebb and flow of the natural world, but the cycle of light and dark can also help to reset their circadian rhythms. After perhaps an initial moment of boredom, your kids will likely be running around, playing, observing small animals and insects, and having the time of their lives.
Visit a theme park together
Theme Parks are some of the most magical places for children, for obvious reasons. Virtually regardless of what theme park you go to, the entire attraction will have been set up for the amusement and benefit of children. They’ll encounter rides that will thrill, scare, and excite them, games that will allow them to win prizes, delicious snacks, and more.
You can keep up to date on the happenings at the biggest theme parks, such as via the Disney World news section of Theme Park Tourist, and can then plan your trip accordingly.
You could drive across the nation on a family road trip, visiting as many different theme parks as possible, or you could simply focus your attention on taking an extended weekend vacation to visit one theme park that your kids are really looking forward to. And, of course, it’s more than a little likely that you’ll find yourself having a great time at the theme park as well.
Get them involved in low-tech hobbies, like stamp collecting
There are a lot of low-tech hobbies out there that we don’t generally consider “fashionable” or “cool” these days, but that can still be very fun and engaging.
Stamp collecting is one example of such an old-time hobby, and involves the collector soaking or steaming stamps off envelopes, and storing them in a stamp collector’s book. Catalogue and reference books exist to help determine the particular pedigree and significance of a given stamp, and equipment like stamp tweezers and magnifying glasses add to the mystique surrounding the hobby.
Of course, there are all kinds of other low-tech hobbies as well. Building model airplanes, for example, or tracing pictures, scrapbooking, or birdwatching.
Get them involved in martial arts
For me, I believe the best physical activity is simply getting outside. However, if that's not your jam, here is another idea. Physical activity is very healthy, as we all know, and some of the best ways for children to get a sufficient amount of physical activity in their daily routines when a nature hike isn't an option is to participate in martial arts.
A good martial arts school focusing on a discipline such as Judo will teach your child self-defense techniques while also instilling a sense of the importance of avoiding violent confrontations wherever possible. These schools will also help to inculcate a sense of achievement in your child, as they progress from belt to belt, and will remind them that they’re capable of a lot, just as long as they put their minds to it.
Of course, martial arts also have the benefit of being great exercise, and will offer up that exercise in a format that’s enjoyable and engaging, instead of mundane or monotonous.
Encourage them to come up with their own games
Some of the best low-tech games that children can play are those that they come up with on their own, when given a bit of space and time.
Take your child to the park, the garden, or some other natural setting, ideally with their siblings or friends, and let them come up with their own games. You might well be surprised by just how capable they are of creating elaborate worlds and rules using nothing but their own imaginations and a few twigs.