Manage your kids' screentime with these effective tips
7 minute read, Written By: Momly
Every parent sits on a fence whether screentime should be allowed or not to their kids. Even if they decide to go ahead with it, they are not sure on the permissible time duration for screentime. It has become a widely debated topic. Some parents say that they don’t allow screentime at all while others claim that few hours of screentime do no harm, as in the age of exposure you cannot avoid screens totally. What exactly is the way out? Read how to manage your kids’ screentime through Momly hacks.
TVs, smartphones and social media have pervaded in everyone’s lives. Technology has occupied our spaces and minds. We have made enough progress with technology backing up in every field but slashing the usage of screentime is what we don’t understand. We have come to a point that we have given the reins to it and it is making us dance to its rhythm. Even kids’ fraternity has become strongly tethered to the technological gadgets and devices. With surge of educational content apps and entertainment programmes at click away, it is becoming increasingly impossible for children to steer clear from smartphones and I-Pads. The growing exposure to these devices is making them more vulnerable to mental health issues. It is making them irritable, lose their focus, angry, and has serious impact on their attention span. It is high time we know how harmful is the electro magnetic radiation from technological devices.
How does technology harm kids?
Any gadgets or devices you take, all of them emit electromagnetic radiation. This radiation exposure is far more powerful and is a potential health risk for kids. Due to smaller head circumference and brain size, kids are more sensitive to wireless radiation exposure. Also, studies claim that it affects the bone density in kids. Kids are enamoured by the devices and they get addicted too fast with creative applications like virtual games, quizzes etc. There is no stopping cue but they get carried away with no sense of time. This continuous connect poses harm to their eyes as blink rate comes down to deadly low when they are glued to any form of devices. The blue light emission from these devices is dangerous, causing kids eyesight issues and making them embrace spectacles way too soon. Kids who are constantly on mobile phones get irritated too fast and prone to ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and develop sleep issues very early. If not all these, it makes them socially isolated, reduces the chance of making friends in a non-virtual circle, and psychologically vulnerable.
Jean Twenge, author of “iGen: Why Today’s super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy and completely unprepared for adulthood and what that means for the rest of us”, says social media and mobile phones have made abrupt shifts in kids’ behaviour and their emotional states”. With skyrocketing rates of teenage depression and suicide, we are in the brink of worst mental health crisis, adds Twenge. To avoid our kids from joining the depression statics, it is our responsibility to keep them away from smartphones and take healthy measures to go low-tech.
How much screentime is okay for kids?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says younger babies who are within 18 months range should not be allowed screentime. For kids who are between the ages 2 and 3, one-hour educational content related screentime can be allowed. You can increase half an hour extra but keep it to minimum as far as possible for kids older than that age bracket. Motivate your pre-schoolers to watch high quality educational programmes during the screentime hours
Tips to manage screentime in kids:
- Schedule a time limit for screentime – Set a time limit for screentime like lunch or dinner time, after school hour, or any other time apart from bedtime. Follow the schedule and stick to it. Be very clear with your kid about the schedule and do not give in even if they throw fits and tantrums. This will give them an idea on the routine and help them prioritize as well as manage time for every activity.
- Encourage kids to take up screen-free activities – Bring in alternate activities like fun board games, reading books and comics, playing sports, skill based educational toys, STEM activities, art projects etc. Look up activities where different learning styles like auditory, visual and tactical styles are involved so that kids can choose their own form of learning style and apply to the game.
- Take them to nature trail – Kids are gifted with imagination. They don’t have any preconceived notions so whatever they see or observe, they tightly latch on it and reproduce it in their drawings or stories. Take them to nature walk and set up a journey around dense forests, bird sanctuary, wilderness, and biological park. Being with the nature is the best way to reduce the usage of screentime in kids.
- Be an involved parent – Whether it is playing games, reading books or any other fun activity, be attentive and wholly present. Let not your attention wander or do not multitask while playing with your kids. This will have a negative impact as kids understand cues of their parents and distracted attention will only make them lose interest and focus. To make them move farther from screentime, being active in their playtime and responding with equal excitement and joy is very important. Kids, whose mother and father are actively involved in their playtime merriment shape up well, perform well in academics and extracurriculars, and throw fewer tantrums.
- Ask kids to take breaks – As the blink rate goes down while watching screens, you should encourage your kids to take their eyes off, pause the TV for some time and get back to it after few minutes.
- Lead by example – Parents are the role models for kids. If you want to set a limited screentime for your kids, you need to follow the same in your own routine. Let them know through your actions on how to balance screentime with other activities. If you want your kids to switch off the TV or take eyes from the smartphones, stay disconnected yourself and let them see you do some other gainful activity in that time. They will learn through you. Read books if you want your kids to develop the habit, sketch and paint if you want your kids to learn sketching or be interested in art.