Unlike the old days when parents had only the TV screen to worry about, kids nowadays are glued on the screens of their handheld devices. The proliferation of these devices gives children the full control of their devices. This makes it hard for parents to control their kid’s screen time.
However, as a parent, you have the responsibility to set boundaries and schedules of when your child can use electronic devices. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should limit your 2-5-year-old kid to only one hour of high-quality program daily. For kids six years and above, you need to place reasonable limitations and control the type of media they access using those devices.
Use screens to offer educational support in older children. However, various researches have shown that too much screen time can result in adverse health effects. Some of these include;
- Obesity due to the sedentary nature of screen viewing
- Development of antisocial behaviors among teens
- Language delays in young children
- Poor cognitive development
However, all is not lost as with the right guidelines; you can make informed decisions about limiting screen use.
Ways To Limit Time Spent Using Electronic Devices
Since each family is different, it’s your responsibility as a parent to decide which approach works best for your children.
No Media During Meal Times
The best time to connect with your kids and learn how they spent their day is during meals. Watching television or using the phone during dinner increases the overall screen time. It also prompts your kid to eat less healthy foods such as snacks as opposed to fruits and veggies.
Set a good example by removing your mobile device from the dining table. Leading by example shows your family that you are fully plugged into the conversation. Hence, this builds a deeper connection with your family.
Limit Time Spent Using Electronic Gadgets
Make your children understand that it’s not appropriate to use electronic gadgets at all times. You can limit device use until they have done their homework or after dinner. Since the school year and summertime seasons are different, you should set rules accordingly.
Limitation rule may not work immediately you set it, but with consistency, your kids will understand the importance of these rules.
Lead By Example
It’ll be hard to control how your kids use electronic devices if you’re regularly using them yourself. Always make sure you’ve set your phone aside when engaging with your kids to set a good example. Also, ensure the TV is off to avoid stealing either of your concentration when having a conversation with your kids.
Interacting with your child without any media device interruptions improves the overall face-to-face interaction. It also helps your child develop healthy communication behavior.
Avoid Using Screen to Control Behavior
As a parent, you may be tempted to use the screen to control your child’s behavior since it gives immediate results. However, this has a downside that it can result in increased screen time.
One way you may be using the screen to control the child’s behavior is using it to reward good behavior. As a result, the child ends up valuing the screen and desiring more of it.
Get School-friendly Apps
Despite being a distraction to many people, smartphones can also be used to gain access to educative tools for your child. Kids can be crafty and will tell you that they’re learning while they’re playing a game or chatting. Avoid such craftiness by installing parental apps that will help you control what your kid does with the phone.
Defining Excessive Screen Time
Excessive screen time is a matter of personal judgment. Your kid may be using electronic devices in various ways ranging from doing homework, playing video games, chatting, and social media, among others. Whichever the use, you can tell that gadget use has become excessive if it starts interfering with your child’s real life.
One sign that your child is using electronic devices excessively is if he seems obsessed with his phone, laptop, or TV. This obsession can interfere with the child’s sleep patterns as well as kill the desire to get involved in physical activities.
Think Beyond Controlling Screen Use
When the above measure helps you control screen time among children, consider helping them develop the desire to do hand-on activities. Being able to play using their imaginations helps the children limit their dependency on electronic gadgets to find fun. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to instill the desire to be creative and independent from a young age.
But as you are guiding your child, avoid acting as a director of how he should play. You should instead consider simple measures such as stuffing their toy box with toys that promote imaginative thinking. Groom your child, to be creative from a young age by reading storybooks and playing outside from the moment he starts crawling.