Keeping the digital genre kids away from screens in a world inundated with electronics and screens seems baffling and equally perplexing for parents.
While totally weaning them off technology would mean, not giving them a chance to keep pace with the digital world. And allowing unregulated use of tablets, smartphones, laptops and TV may lead to many irrevocable problems.
Hence figuring out the right balance and maintaining a strict and controlled screen routine is what parents and kids are struggling with every day.
How do screens play with little humans’ minds?
Screens are hypnotic to our brains, so when we(kids as well as adults) are totally engrossed in a video or a computer game, we mentally shift to another world. The images and the light that we see, the sounds that we hear, and the rhythm of the images that we witness, put our brains into a state of flow.
This makes us feel good and we don’t want the situation to change by any means. Because during this time our brain produces dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and relieving stress and pain.
We feel good until the screen stays on. The moment it goes off, the dopamine levels in the body drop very quickly and can even create a sensation of pain or shock.
Hence this dramatic drop in happy hormones and sudden shock is the main reason for tantrums, whining and irritable behaviour of our kids.
A Quiet and engaged child and some precious moments for ourselves is what lures most of the parents to allow kids some screen time. These may be the only benefits of these gadgets but the hazards outnumber the benefits in the following manner:-
- Eye strains, dry or irritated eyes. Too much exposure can even lead to Myopia
- Sleep disruptions
- Neck and shoulder pains.
- Tantrums and mood swings
- Reduced attention span
- Lazy and tired children
- Potentially hazardous for kids social and academic behaviour
Ways to Limit The Screen Time
Well totally cutting them off from the gadgets is not a practical solution but regulating the gadgets usage and screen time can really help. Few ways of reducing screen exposure are:-
Be the exemplar
Model what you preach if you want your kids to follow the suit. Reduce your gadgets usage and screen time to healthy limits so you can set an example for them.
Be vigilant and informed
Since today’s tech-savvy kids know more than adults, learning about social media apps, filters, regulatory apps and parental controls is very important for parents. You will be able to stop them from using certain apps and games only when you understand the potential dangers.
Set zones and times to unplug
Set the dining and lobby area as no tech zones and reserve dinner time as a family and no gadgets time. Using screens before bedtime can tremendously disrupt sleep patterns and can lead to insomnia.
Use Parental Controls
Monitor and regulate what your children watch on TV, youtube, Netflix, etc. Don’t expose them to the explicitly available content. Use parental controls that let you regulate what your children can watch on TV, Youtube and Netflix. There are many other ways you can control internet usage and filter the web content for your kids through various apps, wifi routers, etc.
Tell your kids about the dangers
It’s always better to make the kids understand things than just dictating and imposing ”YOUR Home Rules’’ on them. Eg, Kids who can understand that “Watching too much screen is not healthy” are less likely to bounce back with anger and agitation as compared to kids who think, “I can’t watch TV and use tablet because my parents are mean and dictating” Explain to them how violent video games, movies, and images can be harmful. Discuss the potential dangers of online predators and chalk plans with them on how you all can work together as a team to reduce the potential risks.
Social Media rules
Establish rules about social media usage and regulate the services that your child can use. Parents must take the responsibility of keeping their kids safe while using social media. This is important because many children lack the maturity needed to handle online problems, such as cyberbullying, phishing attacks, etc.
Engross your kids in other Activities
Today’s kids are highly dependent on technology for entertainment. Try to make them involved in activities that do not involve screens at all. Sports, painting, indoor games, dancing, crafts, upcycling with household junk, reading(https://momzvoyage.com/storytelling-kids-parents-benefits/), gardening, yoga, are some great engaging options. For more engaging options https://momzvoyage.com/tips-and-hacks-to-keep-kids-happily-busy-amid-lockdown/
Set and implement routines
Kids adapt to routines quickly and are less likely to retaliate if certain activities happen in a predictable manner. Try to implement a routine for playtime and screen time, so that the kids know what’s coming up next. If they would know when to expect their screen time, they would stop whining and begging for it. Decide the rules and routines and convey to them in an age-appropriate manner. They may complain initially but soon the rules and routines will become normal for them and they will likely stop arguing.
No screens in Bedroom
Monitoring screen time becomes impossible if it’s allowed in their bedrooms. Computers, TV, laptops, video games, tabs, etc should be allowed in living areas or study rooms for a regulated period.
Kids Friendly Home Environment
Set up a home environment that meets your child’s interests and supports his developmental needs for active play and stimulates cognitive quiet play. The more engaging options they have at home, the lesser they would incline on-screen entertainment.
If you have space for outdoor play, try to set it up for your child’s playtime which is engaging and challenging for their body too. Like setting up things for climbing, throwing, jumping, hopping, etc.
By working on the above points we can divert them a little from screens and can hopefully see them enjoy the active and quiet play. Well, being a parent I know it’s always easier said than done, so taking small steps one by one might help in achieving the goal of screen limitation.