Screen Time is one of the biggest bone of contention between parents and their children: kids can’t seem to be satisfied with what they view while parents struggle to keep it under control.
According to a study done by Mobile Media Time – the screen time for 0-8 year-olds has tripled between 2013 and 2017, from an average of 15 minutes per day to 48 minutes per day.
Children between 9-12 log on an average of 4 hours and 36 minutes of screen time per day, while teenagers spend an average of 6 hours and 40 minutes on a screen.
So what can parents do to better regulate their kids’ screen time?
- SET CLEAR LIMITS
There has to be clear defined limits. These can be arrived by discussion & mutual consensus. There have to be set consequences if these limits get compromised. When kids get older and need laptops for schoolwork, it’s a given that the set limits will get more fluid.
With my 2.5 year daughter, we have hardly used the mobile. Or given it to her in her hand while eating etc. We do listen to a lot of music, nursery rhymes but everything is an audio stimulus. Even when she visits other people’s house where children are hooked to the screens – we get her back to her routine which includes a lot of playtime out in the open.
- SUPPLIMENT THE VACCUM WITH OTHER ACTIVITIES
Get out of the couches ! Play a sport and encourage children to pick up some sport of their choice. If children see the parents being involved in outdoor activities, their proclivity to choose activities outside the screens goes up.
Let children be accountable for some household chores after they have finished their homework.
3.TEACH THEM TO PRIORITIZE
On a school day, schedule the iPad, TV or digital games only after homework is completely finished.
There should also be no devices during meal times.
No devices or TV until a list of chores is complete.
A definitive NO to iPads and TV at bedtime.
- YOU ARE AN EXAMPLE
A primary challenge in balancing screen time is hypocrisy: it’s hard to set and enforce limits if you don’t abide by any yourself. It’s hard to tell your teenage daughter not to keep a tablet in her bedroom overnight if you didn’t start that habit when she was little. Adopt the practice of voicing why are you picking up your phone or ipad, as in ‘Let’s check the temperature.’ This helps kids understand that you are not just disregarding them and emphasizes on the idea that we should have a purpose when picking up our phones.
When your kids get older, collaborating with them to set expectations, writing them down and revisiting them as necessary will help ease any tensions in this area.
By Dr Shruti Jaiswal is a consulting Homoeopath and founder member with Parwarish. She is a mother to a 2.5 year old daughter Sibani.