It is that special time of year every child looks forward to.  Santa has brought all of the new toys to play with, and all of the new technology gadgets have been carefully placed under the tree.  In addition, there is a whole week of winter break between Christmas and New Years to enjoy these treasures, along with sweets and treats, and Christmas movies galore.  Making our children smile with new toys brings so much joy to parents and relatives during the holidays, it really can be the most wonderful time of the year.  There are a few things to keep in mind as the season continues to unfold though.

Although all toys are designed for play, not all of them are safe for children depending on their ages and developmental progression.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires toy manufactures to meet specific safety standards and label products according to these specifications. 

Here are some suggestions of toys to avoid for children of all ages.

Under 3 years:  Toys with small parts that are 1.75 inches or less in size as these items can be easily swallowed or inserted into noses and ears.  Toys with ribbons and straps that could strangle, or toys with sharp edges and points.

3-5 Years:  Toys made of plastic that can easily break into smaller pieces, or toxic art supplies that are not designed for use by children.

6-8 Years:  Toys that can break or that possess potential hazards

9-12 Years:  Toys that are too dangerous for children to operate, such as a BB gun (sorry Ralphie) or slingshot.

Electronics & Technology:  This is a large subject that every parent should be researching as electronics become more integrated into our children's lives, and our own for that matter.  Studies are showing that despite being constantly connected, young people are reporting that they are lonely.  They spend less face to face time with friends and family and more time interacting through social media, have less meaningful conversations, and feel like they have weaker connections with people.  This is the perfect week to play a board game, make dinner together, walk the family dog, or go shopping with your teen and catch up.  Get connected face to face and enjoy this slow down by taking time to connect on a deeper level.

You might consider limiting screen time for young people, coming to an agreement prior to using their devices, so that they don't lose their whole day in their electronics.  Who among us hasn't lost some time scrolling on facebook? 

Another thought would be to eliminate phones from meal times with the family.  Meal times are one of the social times at our house where everyone shares what their day has been like and what is going on in their lives without constant distraction.  Practice social skills and keep up with each other without the interruption of the outside world, or, multitasking that has become the expectation of today.  This also helps us to avoid the constant notifications we get on our phones and focus on one another.

Finally, this is the perfect time to make sure the family is well rested.  Despite the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, make sure you are getting enough sleep at night, which may mean turning off the electronics off well before bedtime.  Studies are showing that the blue light given off by smartphones activates arousing neurons in the brain.  These chemicals can disrupt the body's ability to produce melatonin, a sleep -inducing hormone, preventing us from getting the sleep we need.  When we finally do stop scrolling and close our eyes, technology can prevent us from getting the quality of sleep we do need.  We all know that lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, as well as interfere with social relationships, and in general cause us not to feel well.

Talk to your kids and see what they are thinking about technology.  You maybe surprised to hear what they have to say, but in the mean time, keep thinking about what is best for you and your family during this season of togetherness.  You may be surprised about how much you yourself are invested in technology, how easily you are distracted, or that you just haven't connected well lately, and how a couple of these tips could help you rejuvenate over this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from Griffin Insurance.  Please call us with any insurance needs and we will be happy to help.  We are in the office from 8:30AM until 4:30PM Monday through Friday to answer your questions and manage your policies for you.  Call us at 724-453-1122

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