No Screen Time or very little screen time is something I hear all the time. As parents we are constantly working towards limited exposure to gadgets for our kids. Some of us believe in using screen time positively for our kids too. We all are also well aware of the ill effects of increased time with gadgets.
However, the global pandemic has made me question about the connection between screen time and physical activity! We often relate decrease of physical activity in kids to increased screen time instead of focusing on what kids do while they are away from the screen? I usually try and balance screen time with a lot of other activities as well. ( less mom guilt, you know!)
The question always arises as to how to engage kids in fun activities and also help them learn and develop? The challenging part is to do it without much screen exposure. I decided to go down the memory lane to answer this question. I realized as a child, I used to read a lot and was pushed by my parents to go outdoors and play. Also, I would receive a little flak every time, I spent more time reading other books than my school books. I spent time drawing or making something too.
In this time of the global pandemic, we are indeed restricted from going outdoors. How does then one encourage kids to be more physically active? I follow this simple rule of bringing the outdoors inside through simple activities that requires a little participation from all of us. By doing this, I am also reducing the unwanted time we adults spend on our screens.
We definitely have parents following the zero screen time policy for their kids however I am of the opinion that you cannot wipe out the screen time completely. You can definitely moderate the amount of time they spend with gadgets. Additionally, we are now adapting to the online methods of education and also relying on home-schooling. The changing times sometimes makes it relevant to include some screen time in our children’s lives. We may need it to engage them into some educational content too. Currently, we have some many tutors who have designed wonderful programs to help children with their motor and cognitive skills. Conversely, all of this is available through access to gadgets and screen time exposure.
I strongly believe that along with worrying about the screen exposure and regulating the screen content, we must also consider a few points to have a positive media and screen experience for kids
Check if the content they are watching will engage them positively and allows interaction.
Is the content they are watching is favorable or challenging? The content should neither be too difficult or too easy for them.
Remember how we could transport with characters of the books we read. Every reader often finds a piece of themselves in a book they read. Hence, you need to make sure that the screen time experience is meaningful for your kids.
Adult interactions always help kids when they are using gadgets. It is relevant for adults to intervene, share and interact during a child’s screen experience. This helps them not only understand the content but also helps them to communicate and ask questions.
Once you start following these practices, it will be easier for you to manage screen exposure for kids. The World Health Organization has definitely laid guidelines for screen exposure for kids up to 5 years of age. Limiting or regulation screen time is only a part of the solution. In order to improve the sedentary lifestyle that our kids tend to tilt over to, we must also regulate their diet and sleep pattern.
The current situation will not disappear overnight and we need to alter our lifestyle and the choices we make. Some alterations along with some knowledge will help us choose easily between, “no screen time or regulated screen time” .