What is Screen Time :
Screen time includes usage of smartphones, playing video games, watching television etc.
Excess screen time is the major problem we commonly see in kids and adults these days.It ranges from 3 to 5 hours a day.
Here is a quick fact:
Children who watch screens and play video games for hours each day miss :
- Face-to-face interactions.
- Social connections.
As per research children who spend most of the time in front of the screen are most likely to face health issues affecting their eyes and brain as well.
Main factors which affect your child include :
- Less connected to the real world.
- They can’t concentrate on their studies and unable to do home works.
- Not active and might have depression.
- They don’t interact with family members.
- They face difficulty in falling asleep hence they don’t sleep on time.
- Spend less time to play.
Why do we need to Limit screen time in kids ?
Kids try to imitate the characters they see in the screens. They imagine themselves in those characters and they tend to act like the same character what they have seen. This might cause the problem as the children are not mature enough to understand between the real and imaginary world.
It is common today kids spend most of the time on screen more than the outdoor activities. As a parent, it is our responsibility to limit screen time.
Benefits of limited screen time :
- Kids are highly energetic.
- Able to spend more time on outdoor activities.
- More healthy and active.
- Able to sleep on time.
Here are 19 parenting tips that will help you limit your child’s screen time to a reasonable amount.
1. Parents should Limit their own usage of gadgets when children are around them.
Children always try to imitate their parents, If they see their parents spend most of their time with mobile phones they may also tend to attract towards mobile phones. If they see their parents watching television daily they also like to watch TV along with parents. If they see their parents reading a book daily they may tend to develop that habit.
Always try to limit your own screen time, parents need to demonstrate good behavior to kids.
2. Do not give your child their own smartphone or tablet.
Parents give children their own gadgets thinking if the children are busy using those gadgets they don’t create any mess, they keep calm for a while.
When you allow children to use their own gadgets they spend most of their free time on screens which will affect them in several bad ways.
Instead of giving smart devices to children try to interact with them more.
3. Explain to your kids about the negative effects of excess screen time.
Children do not know why you are not allowing them to use the screens for a long time.it is your responsibility to explain everything in a way that they can understand.
Explain the reasons behind cutting down their screen time.
Some of the reasons for cutting down the screen time include :
- Excess screen time affect healthy eyes.
- Screen time affect good sleep.
- Due to excess screen time children Interaction with real world would be less.
Your children must know why they are not being allowed to watch screens.The reasons must be communicated in every possible manner consistently.
4.Schedule your child’s daily screen time or TV time.
Don’t cut down their screen time immediately so that they might feel frustrated. Instead set rules for screen time, ask them to watch their favorite cartoon channel on Television. Try to set time for television watching.
Set television timing :
Choose the appropriate television viewing time for your kids. They can watch one hour after school or after finishing their home works. Setting screen time limits help you to cut down your child screen time to some extent.
5. Do not encourage your child to see mobile phones during their mealtime.
Most of the parents habituated to give gadgets to children during mealtime. They think if they offer gadgets during mealtime kids are likely to eat food without complaints. Because of this habit children hesitates to eat food on their own and completely depends on the feed by their parents and hence they are not able to eat by themselves even they grew old.
Maintain a strict rule to not use screens during mealtimes.This will habituate the younger ones to not to addict to screens during the mealtimes.
6. Create Screen Free times at home.
As screens become a major part of our daily routine, try to avoid when you are eating together with your family and kids. For example, keep your phones aside when you are having meals or breakfast. Try to have breakfast and meals with your entire family together to have quality time with your family without TV.
7.Play with Your Kids.
Replace the screen time with play time.Plan more activities to distract your kids from the technology. Make sure you’ve planned some interesting games. Try to plan some indoor and outdoor games.
- You can play carrom and chess with kids.
- You can plan some outdoor game such as badminton.
- Some Activity boxes for children also become available nowadays. You can buy those for your children which will make them use their brain and think and help the children to be more creative.
8.Involve them in other Activities.
Try to reduce your child’s exposure to the screens. Encourage your children to learn other activities.
Identify your child’s interest in other activities like painting, music or dance.
- If your child loves to make crafts let them create their own crafts.
- If your children loves to paint allow them to do coloring and make a beautiful painting.
You can also Join them in one of the following based on their interest :
- Dance or music classes
- Sports academy
- Painting classes
9. Involve in their day to day activities.
Spend some time daily with your kids. Talk to them at least one hour a day.Ask them if they need any help. Involve in their day to day planned activities like homework. Brainstorm a list of things to do when they are bored.Come up with ideas for managing screen time so that they just do not turn on the screens immediately if they are bored.
- Ask them to solve some simple math.
- Ask them to demonstrate some real life situation.
- Try to take them to a nearby park or play zone twice in a month.
10. Do not encourage your kid to watch screen before bed which will affect their sleep.
“Kids who spend too much time in front of a screen can have other problems too like too little sleep or too much weight gain,” says David Hill, MD, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media.
Screen time before bedtime will affect your child’s sleep. Do not give mobile at least one hour before bedtime.Make sure they sleep full hours.
Don’t allow your child to use a screen in the dark, They effect children eyes.
11. Do not leave your mobile phones with your children when you are not around them.
Do not hand over your mobile phone or gadgets when you are not around your kids. If we do so children may tend to see some unwanted programs which make them think and act something which is not necessary.
12. Encourage your children playtime outside.
Encourage your children to play outside with other children within the same age group. This will improve their communication outside other than their family. They will make more connections with new friends.
13. Encourage other children to come to your home to play.
Kids became dependent on technology for their entertainment. Encourage your children to become involved in activities that do not involve screens. Encourage other children to play in your home. Engage them in activities like some games other than computer and TV.
14. Have screen free days twice in a month.
Have screen free days maybe once in a while. For example, you can have one day a week. Make sure you are engaged with family and friends other than screens during those screen free days.
15. Monitor the programs watched by your kid.
Always monitor the programs being watched by your kid so that you can make sure they are not addicted to some unwanted programs. Do not allow any kind of unsupervised access.
16. Develop one skill which your child shows interest.
Try to find your children interests and set regular times for practicing them. It could be singing or playing an instrument or simply try improving their vocabulary. Take time to practice them the skill every day at the same time to make that as a habit.
17.Set rules about screen times on school days.
Set screen time rules and restrictions on school days and holidays. Try to set limits by age. Give them rewards if they follow the rules without fail. This will help in limiting screen time for kids.
Make sure the average screen time for the kids do not exceed 2 hours a day.
18. Praise your children about their screen time limits.
Last but not least children always want parents attention. Notice your children screen time routine changes and make sure you are praising them for their little compromises.
19. Use some of the parent Control Apps.
The best way to limit screen time is to use some parent control apps or other screen time limit apps, where you can set a daily limit and track your child’s screen time.
Bottom Line :
When you set screen time limits and take their smart devices away make sure to give them something which makes them creative, busy, more fun than using screens.
Avoid screen exposure for infants and toddlers who are younger than 24 months. Limit screen time to preschoolers to 1 hour.
It takes some time to notice a change in your child’s screen time but