In 2015, we reported that the number of kids under 10 visiting their own homes had doubled over the last decade, from 0.6 million in 2005 to 2.6 billion in 2020.
And while some of that growth was due to parents letting their kids wander around in their own rooms, it’s also been attributed to technology and the ability of children to access the Internet.
“There is an incredible amount of connectivity that’s been built into the home,” says Dr. David Lydon, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
“I think one of the main drivers of that connectivity is access to toys and games.
And it’s not just that kids are playing in the room, it is that they’re playing outside.”
With that in mind, we asked experts to share what’s keeping them up at night, and what they think parents should do to help them do so.
Here are some of their responses: 1.
Your kids should play outside: Dr. Lydan says kids should be allowed to roam the house on their “own” terms.
“When I’m talking to parents about it, they are often talking about the idea of kids being out in the world with their own toys and playing with their friends.
But this is not the case,” he says.
“It’s important that kids have the space and time to explore.
When they’re out, they’re free to go wherever they want.”
Parents should have an “outdoor safety plan”: “It has to be something that the parents have already put into place.
It has to include things like, for example, the number and type of toys they will play with, the kinds of activities they will do outside of the home and what their boundaries are,” says Lyd-a.
“If they’re not getting enough physical exercise, they have to set up a plan and take the kids outside to explore their surroundings.”
And finally, he adds, it needs to be clear that parents have to have the same level of control over the toys that their kids will be playing with.
“So when they’re outside, they can choose what they want to play with.”
Kids should be given “real-time access” to their room: Lydyn and others suggest that parents should be able to control when their kids can enter their rooms.
“Children have a lot of room in their homes and you can’t get kids into the room unless they’re actively supervised.
So it makes sense for parents to have access to the room,” he said.
“This is something we need to keep in mind.
If we can get access to that, then parents can have control of their kids’ playtime.
Parents can set aside time and make sure they’re spending time in their room.
Parents also need to be aware of what is safe and what isn’t.”
Parents need to use tools like cameras to record interactions: “I’ve noticed that I can see things through the walls and that I don’t see anything on my own, and I can’t see the kids through the doors.
That is a really scary feeling,” says Tammie.
“We have to find out where we’re going and what is going on in the house.”
Tammies daughter is not happy that her dad does not let her see her toys, but she also wonders what’s stopping her from getting out of the room when she wants to.
“What do I do?
When I want to get out, I have to be physically restrained by my dad.
That’s not a fun feeling,” she says.
Parents don’t have to watch their kids in the bedroom: “It doesn’t mean parents have no control over what happens in the home, but they are not the only people in the household who have that responsibility,” says David.
“And we don’t want to be able as parents to say ‘Oh, he’s not allowed to be outside.’
With technology, there is a lot more that parents can control and be more accountable for.”
Parents shouldn’t be able a) to limit kids’ social interaction; or b) dictate what kind of activities are allowed: “Children are the main thing to talk about in their lives, but I feel like parents need to have some degree of control,” says Tricia.
“They have to let their kids explore what they can do outside the home.”
Parents have to keep an eye on their kids: “They should be watched at all times, whether they’re in the living room or the kitchen or the bedroom,” says Sarah.
“But if they’re on their phone, they should be on their phones with a camera, and they should never go outside without a camera.”
Parents’ access to technology can also be a challenge: “There are a lot different ways that technology can impact the relationship between parents and their