athomeparentingwithJoFrost2017 - 137

SCHOOL AGE

JO SAYS
'We have moved
into the era of
technology. As
parents, we must
learn to adapt,
embrace and be
savvy enough to
be able to protect
our children,
benefiting from
the positives
while regulating
the negatives.'

Toys

WORDS: FIONA BUGLER, IMAGES: STOCKSY, GETTY IMAGES, SHUTTERSTOCK

Education
THEN: Children read paperbacks,
did research using books and
regularly visited the library
NOW: Children 'Google' answers
and do their learning online
The proportion of adults visiting
public libraries in England has
fallen by almost a third over the
past decade, according to a recent
government report, although usage
in the country's most deprived areas
has remained stable. Much of this

Health and fitness

THEN: Children did exercise at
school and ate three meals
NOW: Children do less of exercise
but monitor it; they eat more and
often 'snack on the go'
The waistline of a two-year-old
girl expanded by an average 2.5cm
between 1987 and 1998, according
to research by scientists at London
Metropolitan University.
The UK is the 'fat man of Europe',
with obesity levels among children
soaring - 9.3% of four and five-yearolds in England in 2015-16.

decline may be down to the number
of libraries closed in recent years by
councils forced to save money.
But substituting reading time for
screen time may be damaging for our
children, according to some experts.
Clinical psychologist Dr Genevieve
von Lob (drvonlob.com), author
of Five Deep Breaths: The Power of
Mindful Parenting, says: 'If children
can't sit still without a screen to
distract them, they won't learn to
regulate their emotions, which will
make it hard for them to concentrate.'
And the more parents turn to
takeaways - either as an indulgence
or because they have no time to cook
- and the less active they get, the more
fitness apps and wearables appear. Dr
von Lob says: 'Children will only be
able to manage their weight if they're
provided with a healthy diet and
opportunities to exercise.
'Often, an overweight child will
be eating to deal with their difficult
emotions. The most important
step a parent can take is to help
their children manage their big
feelings without trying to distract
themselves with food.'

THEN: Children played unchecked with
board games, dolls and computer games
NOW: Children play with a purpose,
they engage and their toys know them
'It's vital for children to have the
opportunity to develop their fine motor
skills and co-ordination by playing with
real objects,' says Dr von Lob.
A Cambridge University project,
funded by the LEGO foundation (set
up to research child development and
education), found that when children
used LEGO bricks to play out stories
before writing them down, this led to
a boost to their narrative and writing
skills, interaction and cooperation.
Imaginary friends and hands on toys
were a staple diet for kids in the 1980s
and smart toys are thought to be a way to
get kids away from the screen and back
into playing. The Guardian reports that
annual smart-toy sales worldwide are
expected to grow from about £2.2billion
in 2015 to £8.7billion by 2020.
They include toys that interact with
your child, and teach them at the same
time, smart building blocks and racing
cars, and connected toys such as Hello
Barbie, which gets to know some facts
about your child and have a conversation
(assuming she's fully charged).
Established brands such as LEGO have
evolved over the past 30 years so techdriven play focuses on learning and on
children engaging with the technology.
Similarly, the Rubik's Cube, the colour
puzzle block that was a hit in the early
1980s (400 million have sold since 1980),
is now available as an app and continues
to retain its magic both on and offline. >

www.athomemagazine.co.uk J UNE 201 7 | 1 3 7


http://www.drvonlob.com http://www.athomemagazine.co.uk

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