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Nothing stirs a man’s heart quite as much as the discovery of his next new gadget. From the latest addition to the garage workbench to a sweet new surround sound setup, guys tend to see new technology as a tool to make life better. True, we tend to drool over product pages and spec sheets, but only because we see those features as a potential asset for us to use as we conquer more of the world around us.
With so much transformative potential on the store shelves today, it’s a shame to leave our kids out of the fun. Most modern kids view technology as only a collection of screens; it’s the gadgets they use to watch their favorite shows, play a few video games, and … not much else.
Instead of viewing electronics as a quick fix for after-school boredom, what if we viewed all of these gadgets and screens as a blank canvas for the imagination of the next generation? Instead of stamping out screen time and pushing the kids out the door, what would happen if we taught our young ones to dream big and build something interesting?
Here are a few ways to change the way your kids view technology.
Upgrade the Clubhouse
Nothing says fun like a clubhouse, and this childhood staple is also one of the best environments for your kids to experiment with the latest smart devices.
Funky lighting is always a hit with kids, and with smart lights like LIFX bulbs and the Philips Hue system, it’s never been easier to turn any environment into a dance party. Smart bulbs connect to your Wi-Fi network, and when you combine them with an app or two on your child’s tablet, they can easily program their lights to seriously upgrade the way they pretend. Maybe the lights flicker like a campfire on a deserted island. Maybe they create a sound-activated disco floor while they stream their favorite songs. Maybe their favorite team’s colors flash every time they score a touchdown. You’ll be surprised by the things that little imaginations can come up with.
The possibilities get really fun when you pair smart gadgets together. If you pick up a smart hub from the store or from your internet service provider, you can link up lights, sensors, and even a homemade robot friend (see below). Our clubhouse really came alive when the kids could ask the robot to turn on the lights, and when a simple motion sensor could sound an alarm that parents were sneaking down the hall. It’s a great way to learn programming principles, too.
Something You Watch, and Somewhere You Create
One of the most impactful things you can do is to teach your kids that screens aren’t only a place to watch shows; they’re a place where their imaginations can run wild. As many modern families have transitioned from owning a living room computer to owning a tablet (or three), it’s become a lot easier to get the computing out of the way and get straight to the entertainment. While that’s extremely handy (who doesn’t love streaming TV around the house?), it’s easy to forget that these handheld screens are powerful little computers as well.
Does your daughter love to draw? Turn her tablet into a digital art studio and supercharge her creativity. Does your son love movies? Challenge him and his friends to remake their favorite scenes and edit together a home movie for a weekend project. Once your kids feel empowered by their devices, there’s no telling where their creativity will take them.
Build a Robot Friend
Want to try something really fun? Show your kids how to build a “real life robot.” Voice assistants and speakers are everywhere now, making it easy (and inexpensive) to add one to your next family project.
The next time there’s a rainy weekend, have your kids build and decorate a “robot body” that you can bring to life together (those old boxes in the corner of the garage work great for this). As the final step, place a voice-activated speaker in the robot’s head, and watch your kids howl with laughter as they ask their toughest questions and listen to a barrage of non-stop jokes. It will put a friendly face on one of the most important interfaces of the future.
Gadgets Are Good for Young Minds
When you free up your kids to think outside of the box, you’ll discover that technology is actually a spark for young imaginations that will help them play more, imagine more clearly, and learn to change the world around them. Talk about technology with your family and dream big together as you upgrade your home. Who knows where that childhood hobby could lead?
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