One of the biggest dilemmas parents face today is how to limit screen time for kids. Most kids spend too much time on their mobile phone, tablet, laptop or watching TV.
Too much screen time for children has become a real big problem for almost all parents. As a mom, you need to think and act swiftly to make sure your child doesn’t become addicted to devices at a very young age.
Your child can’t get rid of this habit alone if she is already addicted. She needs your help. There are many tips you can use to limit screen time for children and raise a healthy child who is physically active and can make friends easily.
The Screen Time Control Problem
- Kids are not physically active because they are addicted to their phones or tablet.
- An increasing number of children suffer from eye-related medical conditions.
- Kids are not able to make friends as don’t meet and socialize with other children as often they need to.
- Kids are losing creativity and empathy. The human touch is missing from their upbringing.
There are so many problems associated with too much screen time, such as disruption of sleep patterns and the lack of ability to concentrate. There are many more long-term negative impacts.
Now let’s find out the root cause of digital media addiction. Knowing the reason is important if you want to find a permanent solution.
3 Reasons Why Kids Are Addicted To Mobiles & Computers
Here are 3 reasons why limiting children’s screen time is a challenge for most parents today.
1. Parents use devices too
As the saying goes, “Monkey sees, monkey do.” Kids learn by watching their parents and elders at home. Not just kids, adults of today are also addicted to their smartphones. However, this addiction harms kids more.
We’re living in a digital age. We can’t avoid technology altogether. The Internet has revolutionized the way we live. Parents are increasingly working on digital devices and so is the next generation.
According to one survey, 76.5% of adults consider themselves cell phone addicts. No wonder the next generation is becoming slaves to technology.
2. Kids don’t always have playmates
Children of previous generations used to play outdoors for many hours until their parents scolded them for playing outside for so long.
But, times have changed and today parents scold their children for staying in their room all day and refusing to go outside.
Often, even if your child wants to play with friends outside, there’s no one to play with as her friends also prefer playing video games to playing outside. It’s a vicious cycle.
With the growth of only-child homes, many kids don’t have a brother or sister, and parents can’t take the place of a sibling. So kids miss having a playmate even at home.
3. Online education is growing
Online education is gaining pace. Almost all schools use technology for homework, interacting with guardians, and distributing exam schedules and the syllabus.
We use video tutorials to explain concepts to our kids. Mock tests are done through online platforms. Kids are learning from eBooks and online tutors.
So, isn’t it self-evident that kids will have more screen time than in the past? But without delving deeper into that, let’s focus on the solutions.
8 Screen Time Management Tips To Limit Screen Time For Kids
Certainly, any parent can limit screen time for children. Balance is the key, as well as knowing how to reduce screen time for kids.
We can’t stop using digital media altogether. And it is not enough to use parental control software or parental control apps to limit screen time.
What we need to do is wean our kids off their addiction to screens by providing them with healthier alternatives. Here are 8 practical and meaningful screen time management tips to limit screen time for children.
1. Encourage your kids to play outdoors with friends
Even today, kids do love to hang out and play with friends than video games. They enjoy the company of kids their own age.
For toddlers, you can organize play dates where they can play outdoors on ride-on toys for kids. Little kids enjoy riding cars and scooters, learning how to balance and compete among themselves.
Work with the other child’s parents to schedule a time when all can go outside and play. This works, kids love it and they become physically active.
For older kids, you can buy them a football or cricket set. Sports teach life lessons such as teamwork and social skills.
A sportsperson can handle difficult situations better, learn from failure and become resilient. A child may find their passion for outdoor activities or sports and can consider it as a career option as well.
2. Join them in pretend play
Parents and elders can take active participation in pretend-play. The benefits of role-playing are huge for a toddler.
Children enjoy role-playing as a cook, doctor, teacher, gardener, astronaut, or ice-cream vendor. You’ll be amazed to know how much kids observe and learn during pretend play.
It will enhance the imaginative power in your child and you will create some memorable sweet memories to cherish in future.
3. Read to your kids and tell them stories
We’ve yet to find a child who doesn’t love listening to fairy tales and stories. In childhood, kids love to listen to stories of fairies, kings and queens, animals and more.
Grandparents are masters of storytelling (at least every kid thinks that). Storytelling is a great art and an interesting hobby. Let your child enjoy the best stories of the world and master the art of storytelling.
Kids learn values and morals from simple stories. Read stories from the Panchatantra, Winnie The Pooh, Enid Blyton, and many other children’s authors. There’s no dearth of beautiful children’s books out there.
Kids take all the conveniences of a modern lifestyle for granted. They should know the hardships you faced as a child so they can appreciate having such a privileged life.
Tell them about your childhood and about your family. Let them know about you and your experiences.
4. Limit screen time for both parents and kids
If you use the phone, laptop, and tab in front of your child, you can’t stop them from using the same. Here’s the tough part for you. You need to walk the talk.
Don’t play video games and chat for long hours. Use your phone only for calls and only if it is important. Try to complete your online work when your child is at school.
Try to implement gadget-free family time. Make sure no one uses any kind of gadget at that time. This will send a strong message that it is possible to spend quality time without gadgets. Kids will also get used to self-discipline.
Alternatively, you can let them use their laptops or phones at a particular time. So they can use it for a specific amount of time only and have to return it.
5. Don’t use the mobile phone or television as a babysitter
If your child is not eating or you’re too tired, don’t switch on the TV or let them play games on the phone just so you can take a break from active parenting for few minutes.
I know it’s easier said than done, but you’ll be responsible for creating a bad habit. For single moms or working parents, it can be really hard to manage all the chores and find a little time to rest.
But instead of giving them mobiles, you can give them a good book or ask them to play with their favourite toys. You can sing your favourite song and ask your child to accompany you.
6. Use a password for all your devices
Don’t make mobiles or laptops easily available to your kids. Keep them in a place where they can’t find them easily. Out of sight is out of mind. This is a little trick that can help a lot.
Even if they find the device, make sure they don’t know the password to open it. This will make sure that even if they get a hold of these gadgets, they can’t use it without your permission.
Usually, they’ll find ways to hack the password if you use the same password for a long time. So change your passwords periodically.
You can use an app-specific lock. That will add another layer of child cyber safety security and protect you from unwanted financial transactions or data theft.
7. Encourage your kids to find a hobby
Most older kids use their phones because they are bored and have nothing to do. If they have something fun to do instead, they would not use gadgets for entertainment.
Encourage your kids to take up creative pursuits and hobbies such as music, art, Lego, gardening, or board games.
Finding a hobby is a vital but neglected job. Those days are gone when parents used to pressure kids to study hard. Your child can live a fulfilling life if she takes up her hobby or passion as her profession.
This is not a tactic but a strategic move that can’t be implemented immediately. People are willing to sacrifice all sorts of comforts for their passions.
Teenagers won’t start smoking if they want to become an athlete. They are less likely to succumb to addiction if can ruin their dream.
8. Educate them about the harmful effects of technology
Your kids don’t know about the harmful effects of technology. You need to educate them. It’s a difficult process and you won’t see the results immediately, but it is important.
Ultimately they have to stop using gadgets, and you can’t do it for them. Unless and until they understand that it is bad, they won’t stop doing it.
If you educate them about the harmful effects of technology, your words will stay in their subconscious mind even if they don’t act now.
Now it’s possible that not every tip in this article will work for you. But a combination of them will certainly help you to minimize the ill effects of technology.
If you know of other screen time control tips or have used any methods successfully to limit screen time for kids, do share them in the comments below.
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