We all know of the effects screen time can have on us and our kids. In my previous blog, I wrote about how you can limit and control screen time with kids. You can read about it here Keeping that ideology aside, we all know that our kids are living in an era controlled by gadgets and despite all efforts, we cannot keep them away from it for long. The television and internet can be great sources of education and information besides being sources of entertainment.
As parents we must define screen time for children based on their age. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued certain guidelines for screen time and I think they are pretty doable. You can read all about them here
As a parent of a child who is growing and curious all at the same time, I wonder if my knowledge is enough. I remember as children we would find all our answers in the library but today everything seems taken over by the digital world. The knowledge is easily accessible on the internet these days and it becomes our responsibility as parents to put forth this information to kids.
Here are few ways you can limit the screen time for kids and ensure they stay aware about the their surroundings.
Limit screen time to maximum 45 minutes a day for toddlers over the age of 24 months. You can plan educational activities for them instead of simply showing them poetry and stories. You can pick from different worksheets and activity ideas available on the internet.
For older kids you need to make them aware of the dangers of excess screen exposure.Make sure they are only using screen time for important things such as exchanging of lessons or referring to some education context. They would definitely want to listen to songs or watch movies, limit that to a once a week activity. Playing songs can be done over the WiFi or the radio.
Restrict your own usage of apps while you are around kids. The more you use apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Whats app etc in front of kids, the more they will be tempted to use them. If your job involves using these apps, make your kids understand it is being used for work.
Turn screen time into learning time – As a family you can watch game shows, quiz shows or informative shows. You can turn the screen time into a fun time for the family as well. Set screen time duration for kids. When kids are under the guidance of other family members, ensure they are aware of limiting screen time as well.
Set guidelines for screen time and treat it as privilege – Allow them screen time as one off and something they need to earn. Avoid making it a part of everyday routine.
Educate yourself about the internet – As a parent you should read up about the games or TV listings that your child is interested in. Read up internet security rules as well. It is good to be aware how to restrict apps for child viewing.Share email accounts with your kids so you are aware of the messages coming in.
Use screen time together – This way you will be able to monitor and regulate their screen time.You could play games or watch something fun too.Also this way you could teach your child about internet safety as well.
Share your views about what you watch and talk – It is important to tell kids that everything they watch is not real. I often tell and ask my little one about the behavior people display while we are watching something.You can always use fun programs to educate them about things that matter, such as safe touch, sex education, use of drugs etc.
It is never easy to control screen time for kids especially teens. You need to make your child aware about the good and the bad both. Communication helps in all parental matters.You need to start teaching them while they are small and also be able to set the right example for them.