About the Author: This post is written by Sophia. She describes herself as a joyful Mum that has a passion to care, not only for her own children but for others as well. She hopes to inform, educate and pass on any tips that she has to those that seek it. She occasionally writes on New Baby Congratulations.
We are living in the digital age where having a TV, computer, mobile phone and tablet is a big advantage. All these devices are essential not just for entertainment, but for better communication and ease of information access as well. And, it’s not just us, “the adults” who benefit from these devices but our children too, i.e. they use computers for educational purposes, with a mobile phone we can be sure that they are safe when away from home, and those amazing documentaries on TV can really boost their knowledge.
These digital goods where they have a lot of benefits, also come with some drawbacks; for instance, too much screen time can have a distressing effect on child development.
Too much screen time makes children less active and more obese, more prone to diseases due to inactivity, a tendency to snack on junk food while watching TV, and being influenced by adverts for foods and drinks with poor nutritional values. They may also develop poor eyesight and have difficulty falling asleep as a result of electrical and light stimulation of the brain.
It’s not just about the physical problems that children develop due to too much screen time, but they may also suffer mental health problems, i.e. more prone to anxiety & depression, bad moods, difficulty in separating the fiction from reality, prone to cyberbullying and exposure to age-inappropriate sexual content, and become addicted to computer games or social media.
Moreover, children who are excessively exposed to screens have fewer social skills, i.e. talking, listening, debating, negotiating and conflict resolution skills because they don’t get enough time for socializing with people.
Since there are too many disadvantages of too much screen time, and all these factors can contribute to affect the child’s intelligence, it is crucial to limit the screen time, and here I am going to discuss some very important points which can help you limit screen time for your children.
- Ideally, there should be no screens in the child’s bedroom at all. Remove TV and computer from their room, or in case of teens having a personal computer, set a timer on computer and internet access to stop their use at a specific time.
- Talk to children about the disadvantages of too much screen time discussed above.
- Supervise and monitor the content of their screen activity and talk to them about it. Do not allow unsupervised access.
- Keep a regular check and make sure that they cannot access mobile phones or games consoles after bedtime.
- Watch TV with them and have a post TV discussion about what you just watched.
- As parents try to limit your own use of screens to set an example for them.
- Set limits for screen time, i.e. make family rules. Ideally, it should not be more than 2 hours (including all screens).
- Praise your children when they make good decisions about viewing time and reward them with something that involves physical activity.
- Make the mealtimes a family time. Don’t permit any eating in front of the TV.
- Encourage outdoor play and ensure your own participation.
- Organize social activities, small gatherings and encourage children to participate actively.
- Buy them good books, board games, and educational toys and encourage children to use them.
- Encourage your children to have hobbies and help them with what they need to pursue a hobby.
- Spend time playing with your child on the computer, i.e. multiplayer games, just to make the activity social.
- Encourage their friends to come to your home to play and ensure that they are engaged in a non-screen activity.
- Set rules for screen times on school days and non-school days with rewards. For instance, let them earn 30 minutes of screen time by helping out at home.
- Spend at least 30 minutes with your child every day; play, talk or have some fun activity that does not involve a screen.
The Bottom Line:
There can be more ways to limit the screen time for your children, but it must be a balanced limitation, i.e. there may be some days which prove to be the exception to the rule. In a nutshell, you cannot achieve the desired results from limiting screen time overnight, and it must be planned for a long run which requires you to develop good habits.