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How to Get Your Kids 'Wired' for Back to School

Between the tweeting, posting and gaming, it's hard to get a text in edge-wise, let alone a conversation! Studies show that children and teens spend nearly as much time with media as they do sleeping. Most paediatricians agree that although media is a growing tool and can offer children many opportunities to learn and be entertained, it should be monitored and made available in moderation.

Kristie Demke, President of Professional Organizers in Canada, offers a few tips on how you can manage your child's media time at home this school year!

  1. Have an actual face-to-face conversation with your kids about how much time is reasonable and how much is too much. You may be surprised at how different your expectations are from theirs! Nonetheless, agree on some limits for computer time (homework and recreational) and gaming, even setting up a schedule if necessary.

  2. For texting and tweeting, the number of texts included in your carrier plan will be a starting point, but you also need to determine who pays for overage charges and how that money will be earned. You might also consider adopting 'media free' times such as during meals, while carpooling (a great time to talk!), and during family time such as movie or games night.

Once the school schedule begins, kids are expected and encouraged to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. One of the biggest concerns with excessive screen time is the inactivity that goes with it hand-in-hand. Because of this pattern, a growing number of young children are overweight or obese.

  1. Ensure activity and exercise are included as part of their daily routine when allocating homework, video game, Internet and television time. These tips can help organize a 'time out' from media in exchange for exercise.

  2. With your child, pick out at least one activity that they will participate in that incorporates physical activity - anything from swimming to fencing to yoga or hockey - whatever is interesting and fits with the family schedule.

  3. Plan at least one family activity every weekend that includes exercise, whether it's a bike ride, a hike, an afternoon at the wave pool or even a rowdy game of tag. Show them how much fun it can be to 'unplug'!

Along with media products are the accessories. This season, find space for your technology and its accompanying gadgets. Here are a few tips on organizing space for wires, chargers and game controllers. Give them a place the whole family knows! And stick to it.

  1. Keep the accessories close to where they are used. This dramatically increases the chance of them being put away! And make it easy for every member of the family to do so - baskets, boxes, bins or drawers are best.

  2. For personal devices, such as phones and iPods, when you purchase the item, help your child decide where to charge it. For instance, the desk in the family room might be a good place to charge a phone, the counter in the kitchen where meals are prepared, not so much!

As households adapt to the latest advances in technology, families need to stay on top of the media their children are exposed to while embracing the positive effects it has as well.

Professional Organizers in Canada is a national registered non-profit association that provides education, business development tools and a code of ethics for all types of organizers across Canada. For more information, visit www.organizersincanada.com.

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