How do you manage your child’s Screen time?
How much Screen time is good for my child? Can I completely go away with it, or can I maintain a healthy balance?
With screens virtually being everywhere, controlling a child’s screen time can be challenging. Specially when screen time can be educational for children and which supports their social development.
So how do you manage your child’s screen time?
As a Pre-primary school teacher & a mother myself this question always keep coming in my mind when I see my daughter with the mobile phone or laptop. I question myself asking..”Is the screen safe for her? How much time I should allow her? Or how can I keep her away from it”. I am sure you all parents feel the same.
We are today in a world of technology, with gadgets all around us. Also, Children have become smart & exposed to new learning daily. When I look back & think “We never got to learn so many things till higher school what children learn today”. Technology is surely a blessing but at the same time has its own challenges.
Unstructured playtime is more valuable for a young child’s developing brain than is electronic media. Children younger than age 2 are more likely to learn and remember information from a live presentation than they are from a video. E.g. Teaching with music and movement with stories. However, passive screen time should not replace reading, playing or problem-solving.
As your child grows, keep in mind that too much or poor-quality screen time has been linked to:
b. Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep
c. Behavioral problems
d. Loss of social skills
f. Less time for physical activity play
g. How much is too Much?
Children today at 8-18 age spend over 7 hours a day on screen & is considered a big warning by AHA (American Hearts Association).
At preschool children of 2-5 age, should spend not more than 1 hour of high-quality interactive programming, which should be with your involvement.
By watching together, you can help your child understand what he or she is seeing and apply it in real life.
So how can I really maintain a healthy balance?
I start with Preparing Screen time rules:
Children younger than 18 to 24 months. If you introduce digital media, make sure it is high quality and avoid solo media use. For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.
To make your pre-schooler’s screen time is more productive, always be with young child during it and interact with them. That can mean playing an educational game with your child or talking to them about something you see together in an age-appropriate TV show or video.
Schedule plenty of non-screen time into your child’s day. Unstructured playtime is important for building creativity, so young children should have time to play away from screens every day. Family meals and bedtimes are also important schedules to put the screens away and interact with your child.
However when your child grows, the same approach does not work . To decide how much media to let your child use each day, these are the below magic tricks
Apply same rules in Virtual or real environments, play with your child, teach kindness, be involved and know your child’s friends and what your child does with them.
Ensure quality screen time spent:
a. Preview programs, game`s and apps before allowing your child to view or play with them
b. Seek out interactive options that engage your child, rather than those that just require pushing and swiping or staring at the screen
c. Make sure your child close by during his/her screen time, so that you can supervise his or her activities
d. Ask your child regularly what programs, game`s and apps he or she has played with during the day
e. When watching programming with your child, discuss what you are watching and educate him or her about advertising and commercials
Educate kids about online risks:
a. There are times your kid will wander around & get exposed to content that you have not approved
b. Talk to your kids about the online risks & what you expect them to do to stay protected
c. Encourage your child to think whether everything is safe online. Is everything on the internet accurate
d. Teach your child to differentiate if the website is safe or not
e. Educate them about the technologies used to collect data & track your online activities
Setting rules for older kids:
a. Use parental controls apps to block or filter internet content based on age
b. limit charging devices in the bedroom
c. Keep devices with screens out of your child’s bedroom after bedtime, and do not allow a TV in your child’s bedroom
d. Limit your own screen time & spend time together
e. Discourage use of Media entertainment during Homework time
Maintaining healthy communication & teaching appropriate behavior online:
a. Online relationships and social media have become a major part of life. Experts suggest that it is OK for your teen to be a part of these worlds if he or she understands appropriate behavior
b. Explain what is allowed and what is not, such as cyber bullying and sharing personal information online. Teach your child not to send or share anything online that he or she would not want the entire world to see for eternity
c. No matter how smart or mature you feel your child is, monitor his or her online and social media behavior. Your child is bound to make mistakes using media. Talk to your child and help him or her learn from them
d. Also, set an example. Consider that your child is watching you for cues on when it is OK to use screens and how to use them
Screen Time Tips:
The same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.
a. Be with your child & interact during Screen time. Seek out interactive options that engage your child, rather than those that just require pushing and swiping or staring at the screen
b. Find & approve Games or apps that are educational
c. Find things your child likes or is interested in
d. Tried to introduce plenty of non-screen time of entertainment where family is involved
e. Finding alternatives for online gaming like physical carom board, a box of snake & ladder/Ludo etc
f. Watch online videos/programs together so you can discuss what you are watching and educate him or her about advertising and commercials
We know by now that not all screen time is same. You & your child have to plan & set screen time rules accordingly
For e.g. you and your child playing an interactive phonics or numbers game on a tablet or watching high-quality educational programming together is good screen time. Whereas keeping the TV on all day for “background noise” or letting your pre-schooler watch your favourite shows with you are examples of bad screen time.
At the end managing your child’s use of screens time and media will be an ongoing challenge. However, by developing household rules and revisiting them as your child grows, you can help ensure a safe Screen time experience
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