In this era of science and technology, the use of screens is inevitable for anyone. Wherever we go, we see the people around us entangled in the screen. Particularly for kids, unchecked screen time can lead to a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. Uncontrolled screen time can have severe mental and psychological issues for children. Bringing up the children with a safe and limited screen time is quite challenging for today’s parents.
Research by Cambridge university describes the parental factors associated with screen time for their primary care practice kids.
When the kids are little, it is easy to keep an eye on their technology use as you are already monitoring them for other safety reasons. The biggest concern for little ones is the quality of their screen time. Parents need to know the difference between a good and a bad screen time for their kids.
For example, if your kid is playing some interactive or knowledgeable vocabulary game or watching some science-fictional movie. It is a good quality screen time. But, if your child is watching some season or playing some violent game. It can have destructive effects on your kid’s brain. Parents need to use common sense to decide which screen time is constructive for their kids.
How to give Safe screen time:
Keeping an eye on what your kid is reading or watching on screen, you also need to monitor how your kid is interacting with others. Here are some tips parents can use to make a safe screen time for kids
1. Talk to your kid about what they are doing and watching on screen. Try to engage their interest in social activities, puzzles/ games, fitness activities, productive pursuits, and some off-screen relaxation time. Try to spend more time with your kid.
2. Put a limit on the internet access of your kid. To keep them from reading inappropriate content while giving them the freedom to explore educational topics.
3. Use internet filters to protect your child from watching inappropriate or unethical content. But, don’t just rely on internet filters.
4. Pay attention and teach them the browsing habits. Ask them not to click the random links or download unknown files.
5. Don’t forget that many websites, mobiles, and gaming systems provide unfiltered access to the internet. Keep a check on watch history.
6. Try to develop their interest in academics, sports, history, cars, or whatever you think is beneficial for your kid. But, keep in mind the priorities of your child too.
7. Provide a friendly space for your children. Teach them the harms of sexting and cyberbullying. Provide them the confidence to report inappropriate behaviors that occur to them or other adults.
8. In the beginning, provide your kid a simple cell phone with no data plan. You can graduate them ahead with an expensive phone if they show responsibility and credibility towards its usage.
Parents should be aware of the law (COPRA). This law states that no company can collect personal information from children under age 13 without their parents/guardians’ approval. That’s why kids are forbidden to use social media sites.
It’s a safety precaution. Thus, keeping companies to do marketing to children without parental acknowledgment. Generally speaking, it’s positive for kids.
Breaking the rules and lying about age is something that your child is going to regret later. So, you need to be aware of social media sites that your child is using and take time to check the login information for all of them. You need to monitor your child’s screen time.
Teach your child about safety measures. Your child will hide several things from you(posts, accounts, behaviors). It is a natural part of growing up that you have to accept. Accepting this early will protect you from problems. You can take the following measures in this regard.
1. Talk to your children about different media sites. Ask them for a tutorial on their favorite media site. In this way, you’ll be able to know what your child prefers to watch on social media.
2. Don’t try to humiliate or embarrass your child on purpose. It will leave a negative impact on your child.
3. Be aware of what you are posting on your social media. Both in terms of what your child sees and what you are saying about them.
How much is safe for your kid?
An unlimited screen time may harm your child’s health and growth. So, it’s necessary to put a limit on daily screen usage. Access to a screen and a sedentary style can cause obesity, depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, violence, and behavioral issues. Moreover, less screen time, more sleep hours, playtime, and reading books can be more constructive for your child. American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended the following Safe screen time for kids according to their age.
- No screen time is allowed for a child less than 18 months. Only a bit of video chatting is allowed.
- For toddlers of 18 to 24 months: You can play some interactive games on a screen with your child. It will help in boosting their brain. But even a safe screen time for hours is not allowed.
- For preschoolers of age between 2 to 5 years old an hour of the high-quality programmed screen is allowed. Try to view it together with your child.
- For a grown-up child(ages 6 and up), there is no specific limit. It can vary according to the child’s academic requirements. But, Parents should monitor its usage. Also, parents should apply a limit to the daily use of a screen. Parents should take care that the media does not take the place of fairish sleep, play, and academic time of their kid.
How to Limit Screen Time:
We all are aware of the fact that the use of screens and technology is inescapable. However, a limited screen time is safe for your kid. Following are some measures that you can take to limit the use of screens by your kid.
Be role model
Parents should model healthy electronic usage for their kids. If you don’t want your kid to be entangled in screen time, you need to show it by your example. Don’t just leave the TV on as background noise. As your practice directly impacts your child. Before your beige- watch a season, remember that you are setting an example for your kid. Keeping the TV on for background noise all the time and scrolling over your phone whenever you get a spare minute. You are setting a bad example for your child. I hope this is not the ideal behavior that you want to see in your child. Reduce your screen time first!
Be aware of the latest technology:
It’s a fact that nowadays children are cannier than their parents, especially in the case of the use of technology. So, parents must stay up-to-date on modern technology, games, social media sites, and trends. To keep an eye on how their kid is spending screen time.
For example, you cant teach them the corns of social media unless you are aware of it yourself. Similarly, you can forbid them to use a certain type of violent video game only if you are aware of it.
Make technology free-zones
Create technology-free zones in different areas of your house where nobody can use any screen. You can prompt such zones in the kitchen, dining room, garden, etc., where all family members can sit together and talk about real things. Thus providing quality time to the family every day will raise bonding and interaction between you and your child. Everyone will get a chance to share thoughtful time, and it will automatically reduce the screen time for your kids.
Restrict the content
You can use parental controls, or restrictions modes offer by different androids and websites to protect your child from watching unethical or inappropriate content.
You can download certain apps to filter the content that appears on your child’s screen. Many other apps allow you to restrict certain websites, violent games, or keywords.
Communicate with your Kid
Communication is very necessary. You need to tell your kid why you are limiting screen time. Tell them how beneficial it is for them. They are more likely to follow your rules if you tell them the downsides of the access use of the screen. Instead of just imposing your rules on them. Because your child will consider you mean if you keep up strict behavior.
Bespeak to them, tell them the dangers of access use of a screen, playing violent games, TV shows, movies, etc. Make sure that all family members are participating and creating boundaries that everyone can follow. Appreciate the one who is following the rules.
Encourage Co-curricular activities:
With a pile of games, videos, and other electronics, your child may get habitual of electronics for entertainment. To avoid this, encourage your child to seek out get involved in other activities like playing at home or outside the home, giving them learning toys, gardening, painting, reading books, etc. It will help you to reinforce a less screen atmosphere at your home. Make it clear to your child that how much screen time is allowed to them. This will help your child to know your expectations and prevent arguments.
Teach them how to keep a balance between screen time and other activities. Arouse them to try other useful things like outdoor games, paintings, or whatever they like to do. One best thing is to give them the ability to self-moderate their screen time.
Restrict the use of screen before sleep:
The use of screen before going to sleep has harmful effects on health. It can lead to eye-sight issues, anxiety, and sleeplessness. So, It’s necessary to make your child’s bedroom screen-free. You’ll also not be able to monitor your child’s screen if they are using it out of your sight. For this reason, make a strict rule of not using the screen late at night.
Make Your child earn it:
Make screen time a privilege for your kid. Require them to do
Different tasks like homework, chores, co-curricular activities, and so on.
There are a lot of ways to set this up. This behavior will encourage your child and let them realize that homework and necessary physical activities come first, and they can use the screen in their spare time.
Let Your Child be a Producer:
Suppose you observe that your child is very much efficient in using the screen constructively. Like if he/she is good in graphics or editing or something like that. Encourage him/her to be a producer instead of a consumer.
Instead of your child spending a lot of screen time, provide an environment where they can polish their skills and do well in that field.