G3 minutes read
The addition of technology to daily life may look like the best thing that ever happened to humans. But many good things come with certain unwelcome consequences. While screens have become a part of today’s lifestyle, parents do not want their kids to turn into disconnected zombies. But unfortunately, this is what we see today. Children staying indoors are lying on the couch watching cartoons and meaningless videos on their TVs, iPads, or smartphones. And to add fuel to fire, education systems are also favoring and incorporating screen-based learning. In this scenario, let us look at three practical approaches for parents to reduce screen time for kids.
While every system has its advantages and disadvantages, studies have proven clearly that limited screen time improves physical and mental health, reduces the chances of obesity, and provides kids with the childhood they deserve.
Here are a few ways to reduce screen time in children:
Use of books, puzzles, and board games
I remember that when we were kids, our big dream was to get that monopoly board game and to have all that property and money. And I will not be exaggerating if I tell you that much of my vocabulary at that time could be attributed to Scrabble. Books, puzzles, and board games are children’s best friends. But snatching away the phone and handing over the boards and books one fine day will just not work. For children, parents need to be role models for screen use. Parents will have to control screen time themselves, sit and engage in the child’s active learning through games and books. Go ahead, read a fun bedtime story to your kid, or ask the child to narrate the storyline of a book she read. The child will love the sight of parent trying to solve a puzzle or navigate on the board game.
Parents need to establish some rules around the house. Instead of being submissive, be permissive. Establish zones in the house where phones and electronics are not allowed – the dining area, study room etc. Reserve areas in the house for engaging the child in family conversations and eating without handheld video games or phones. In addition to this, it is great to walk in to a books and toy shop with the child.
Encourage Other Activities
Kids nowadays have become reliant on electronics for fun and entertainment. Except for certain informative media, majority of the content consumed are fast-paced stimulating games and videos. Such content does worse than good. Instead, encourage the child to go out to play healthy games. How about a game of badminton with the little one? Or maybe a cycling contest? Let her play in the balcony garden or park, with a water bucket and a shovel. Let her dig up the garden because that is exactly what children are supposed to do. Parents can also try subscription services as they are a great way of educating and inspiring a kid. They give them a chance to discover something new, fun, and thrilling, without the screen element.
Make screen-time a privilege for the child. Parents and children need to develop a sense that it is not the children’s right to have access to video games and phones intermittently. Set limits on the amount of screen time allowed and reinforce positive behavior through appreciation and small rewards It is never too late, to let the child grow up the right way
Swadeep Patil (12th March 2021)
Get Window Seat to help reduce screen time and give your child the experience of your own childhood.