How to turn your kids’ smartphone time into marketable skills for the future

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Jack and Alex Heath are seasoned when it comes to tackling domestic duties. Laundry, cooking, dusting, vacuuming, and meal prep are all in a week’s work. The dynamic duo isn’t a housekeeping team; they’re brothers, aged 11 and 14.

“My husband and I are very driven in our careers and we have a very busy lifestyle,” mother Lina Heath explains. “Our kids have grown in an environment where they need to think for themselves and figure out solutions to their everyday lives. For example, if they have laundry to do, then they do it. We’ve taught them how to use the appliances in our home.

That means if dad is out of town for work (a common scenario for the national sales manager) or mom is running late (she’s the president of Eveline Charles) the boys take it upon themselves to get dinner started. It could be as simple as popping pre-made quiche into the oven, but this is just a sample of how the parents are instilling independence in their young boys.

“I’ve called Uber on multiple occasions,” Jack said. “Pretty recently I had to bring Alex to one of his acting classes. So we Ubered there and I waited and then my mom picked us up to drive back.”

These are the kind of confidence-building tasks that make former human resources director, Melissa Griffin, salivate. The Texan behind HR Mom is encouraging parents to challenge their children to numerous tasks in the name of independence.

“A lot of parents give their kids devices and they say, ‘I don’t want to shelter them from technology. I want them to have the skills they need,’ and then they don’t know how to teach them those skills,” Griffin said.

“I’m getting people into the workforce that do not have basic technical skills but they’ve had phones since the 6th grade. I wanted to bridge that gap for parents.

Griffin is encouraging parents to challenge their children to use their smartphones to create and contribute, rather than for simply texting or using social media.

Her challenges include: calling to book a haircut or a dentist appointment, researching a recipe, ordering groceries online, creating a vacation packing list in a spreadsheet or making a PowerPoint presentation for a family member’s birthday.

She says these kinds of tasks not only give children marketable skills; they allow them to contribute to the household in a meaningful way.

“What I try to do is introduce parents to all sorts of scenarios that put your child in an uncomfortable situation. So these technology challenges and these independence challenges, as I call them, are to put kids in a grey area where they have to make a decision,” Griffin said.

Griffin adds when children or teens text, they have time to think about their response. Picking up the phone and booking an appointment forces them to make decisions on the spot.

Lina Heath doesn’t expect any decision to paralyze her own children. She’s been training them to think and act independently for years.

“Both my husband and I are in management positions and we are often faced with employees that are just starting their careers and they are insecure or uncertain about everyday small decisions on how to manage their day.

“When we get home, we share some of these stories with our children with hopes that we can educate them on how they can learn these small life skills that will have a large impact on their lives as they become mature, responsible adults.”

For more independence and tech challenges from Melissa Griffin’s viral post, visit her HR Mom Facebook page. –THE MALAYA POST

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