Excessive screen time—for kids and adults—can be too much of a good thing. It seems the younger you are, the more damage can be done. A host of health and social issues can be linked to too much screen time, including attention problems, obesity and other eating disorders, sleeping disorders, and difficulties in school.
Not all screen related use is bad, though. Some content is educational, some is interactive, and some is just plain fun. All that is great, for a while. Eventually, the screen can replace all the other activities that kids could, and should, be doing. Physical activity is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but kids are missing out on so much more.
Parents all want their kids to develop the skills they need to become successful adults, like responsibility and independence. Kids with eyeballs glued to screens often miss out on prime learning opportunities to engage in the very activities that foster these skills.
In today’s society, it would be impractical to expect anyone to completely give up screens. But between televisions, tablets, phones, and computers, even toddlers get more screen time than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. Setting limits is a great starting point, but what is really effective is giving kids an alternative to screens. It must be something interesting, something they can become passionate about, and ideally something that can help build some of those skills they might have already missed out on.
According to Forbes Magazine, teaching kids to become entrepreneurs can provide a wealth of opportunity for developing the skills needed to become successful in the future. However, these skills need to be practiced, over and over, until a child can perform them with ease. This builds their overall confidence.
Becoming an entrepreneur may seem like an odd way to get kids to spend less time in front of a screen, but most kids are intrigued by the idea of owning their own business. It requires many different sets of skills, and kids can literally choose something they already love to do and incorporate that into a business venture. Most of all, being an entrepreneur helps to build a child’s confidence in a multitude of ways.
Step 1: Build Confidence by Building a Better Work Ethic
Running a business, even a small one, takes work. Lots of work. Hard work. This hard work will eventually lead to success, creating a sense of accomplishment. Even a small win can work wonders for a kid’s confidence. Kids soon realize that they get out of their business only as much as they put into it.
Having a job can help kids build a work ethic. Being an entrepreneur, however, will push them, help them find their limits, and have them working harder. They will associate that feeling of accomplishment for each success with all that hard work they’ve done. Viola! A better work ethic is built, one they won’t find sitting in front of a screen.
Step 2: Build Confidence by Building Decision-Making Skills
Kids get to make few decisions in their lives. Think about it. Most of the food they eat is chosen for them. The activities they participate in are often chosen for them. Even the clothes they wear are usually, at least in part, selected by someone else. Though there are opportunities for kids to make their own decisions, for some, those opportunities can be few and far between.
On the other hand, every entrepreneur must make hundreds of decisions before the doors even open. The outcomes of those decisions can be seen fairly quickly, and a kid knows if the choice was a good one or a bad one. Making wise decisions will result in positive outcomes, building a child’s confidence to make good choices in the future. Even negative outcomes help to influence future decision making. These are good lessons for business, but great lessons for life.
Step 3: Build Confidence by Building Creative Thinking Skills
Not all decisions will be straightforward, however. Problems will inevitably arise in which a single, correct answer is not clear. How a kid responds to these types of problems will say a lot about his or her character. Having the ability to think creatively about an issue can mean the difference between a solved problem or a failed business.
All creative thinking will not lead to success, however. The more kids practice looking for unconventional solutions to unorthodox problems, the more confident they will become in knowing they can fix any issues that come their way.
Creative thinking is one of the top skills employers seek out in today’s job market. Building those skills now, and having the time to develop and nurture those skills, is a chance all kids should get.
Step 4: Build Confidence by Building People Skills
No matter what type of business an entrepreneur chooses to start, he or she must associate with other people in some way. In fact, some businesses, such as sales, are based on interaction with the public. Running a business quickly teaches kids how to relate with people. If individuals have a bad experience, the entrepreneur may have just lost future business. But if they have a good experience, they will not only come back, but they will tell their friends, families, coworkers, and even strangers about it. Think about the positive lesson that will teach, and how much confidence it has the potential to build.
If your child is not a “people person,” practice some potential interactions—a sales pitch; ordering supplies; or persuading a store manager to carry a product on the shelves. Build those people skills before kids even meet their first customer or client, giving them the confidence they need to interact with others.
People skills are crucial to possess for nearly every profession, and building these skills early on will directly translate into future success. Knowing what to say, and when say it, is an invaluable skill, one that kids can use confidently in all areas of life.
Step 5: Build Confidence by Building Goal Setting Skills
Kids are sometimes asked to set goals in school or for a game, but these goals are often dismissed or forgotten. Setting and reaching realistic goals gives kids a giant boost in their confidence. They become proud as they achieve what they set out to do.
Goal setting is not an innate ability for most kids, so they may need some guidance in this area. Help them choose a small, but achievable, goal to give them a quick confidence boost. Then, choose a goal a bit harder to reach. Just watch as they work to reach it, building even more confidence as they go.
Goal setting in other areas has the potential to create similar benefits. Why, then, does setting a goal through the lens of entrepreneurship provide better results? Kids tend to start, and then quit, many different things, such as activities, sports, or books. A business requires an investment—time, money, skills—and to quit, kids must give up a lot more. This is something they must seriously consider before giving up on their goals. Chances are, they will keep working at it until they achieve what they are striving for.
Step 6: Build Confidence by Building Independence
Perhaps the number one goal of parents is to raise children who will be successful once they are out on their own. The question is, how do we let them practice independence in a safe environment, where a wrong decision won’t have the potential to ruin their lives? Give them the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, of course!
Becoming an entrepreneur requires kids to combine all the skills above (and so many more!). They learn how to be responsible, how to take care of things on their own, and how to apply those skills in running a successful business. The best part is, each time kids have a success (or failure), they learn a little bit more about the choices they make, and how that has an impact on their goals, their achievements, and their future.
Some lessons are learned at school, while others are learned at home. There are those lessons, however, that cannot be taught in either setting. Kids can be independent in a variety of ways, but by having the real-life experience of becoming an entrepreneur, they will be ready, and confident, when they finally take that step into the real world.
Screens aren’t horrible. They help kids do homework. They let us see places we’ll never get to visit. They help us to learn. They give us wonderful entertainment choices. But when the screen becomes all that a kid wants to interact with, it may be time for a different approach. Talk to your kids about the interesting journey that entrepreneurship can take them on. There will be successes. There will be failures. But through it all, your child will learn a multitude of life lessons that he or she can take confidently into the future.