Technology is a great source of learning and development for people of all ages. But when it comes to children, there are some major health implications of excessive screen time that all parents must consider. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are between ages 3 to 18 years should not spend more than two hours in front of a screen. Moreover, children who are under 2 years should completely avoid any form of screens or mobile phones. Hence, it is crucial for parents to cut screen time for kids.
When parents have a better understanding of how screen time affects their child’s mental and physical health, they can come up with ideas for managing screen time.
Why Should I limit my child’s screen time?
Undeniably, there are a few benefits of using technology. Students can use the internet and their devices to research for a project or to get valuable info. Television, too, can offer educational material to improve language skills and cognitive development of children of all ages.
Some of today’s renowned game manufacturers claim that popular video games are actually beneficial for developing hand-eye coordination of children. A few games also promote physical activity such as dancing to help children become more active.
But while mobile phones or video games give parents some extra time to answer emails or do housework, the results of prolonged screen time are detrimental.
Electronics can keep your kids quiet and happy. But, setting on limits can prevent the harm that playing games can cause to promote violence and aggression.
The effects of excessive screen time are not just limited to eye fatigue, dry eyes, and vision problems. Your child may complain of frequent headaches, blurred vision, or dizziness. These symptoms arise after sitting in front of a computer or a smartphone for prolonged hours.
Here are a few tips for cutting out screen time to help your child live an active and healthy life.
Your kids might be more tech-savvy than you. That’s because children of our generation are well-aware of the latest social media and gaming updates. But, they rarely consider the consequences of playing violent games or using social media for longer hours.
You must educate yourself and get to know the latest gaming and social media updates before you set the right amount of screen time for kids. Television is another medium which you must monitor and control. This will make sure your children do not watch anything inappropriate for their age.
There are many apps that block all sites and material which you think might be harmful to your children. Install them on your computer and mobile devices to ensure your kids don’t view the wrong kind of content. Naturally, that will also help cutting out screen time for your kids.
Practice What You Preach
Do you binge watch your favorite Netflix shows through the entire weekend? Are you on Facebook the whole day updating posts and pictures?
Learn how to limit the screen time for yourself, before you expect the same from your child.
It is natural for your kids to become addicted to screens if they see you on the phone or computer the whole day. Set a good example if you want to cut screen time for kids.
Make Technology-Free Zones
We completely understand how much you dread screaming kids throwing tantrums when they can’t use screens in certain rooms of the house. But, with positive parenting, you can channel their negative energy into constructive action. Talk to them about their day at school or discuss an upcoming sports event that they should participate in.
A few places where you can reduce screen use include the dining area, living area, or your balcony. Keep these places reserved for family conversations and meals.
Talk About Taboos
Most parents keep stressing on cutting screen time for kids. But they rarely tell their kids ‘why?’
We shy away from discussing the real issues at hand and make up excuses which children are quick to reject. They fail to understand ‘how’ and ‘why’ too much screen time is bad for them. Instead, their little brains begin to believe that they can’t play games or surf the internet because their parents are overpowering and controlling.
Discuss cyber-bullying and the potential dangers of coming across online predators. Instruct your kids never to disclose contact information such as your address or phone number to anyone. Unless your child is old enough, limit the screen time to ensure the safety of your child. It is important to monitor screen time so you can successfully reduce screen time for your kids.
Screen time is not a right but a privilege. When children fail to do well in studies or begin isolating themselves, take away privileges. If you are wondering how to limit screen time, you need to set a healthy number of hours for your kids. But, make sure your children stick to the schedule to cut screen time. Offer low-cost rewards for your children when they follow your schedule.
Be Patient During The Initial Weeks
Children who have become addicted to video games or the internet sometimes exhibit typical withdrawal symptoms in the form of tantrums, mood swings, and impulsive behavior.
The key to cut screen time for kids is to make your children realize that computer phones and mobile devices are not the default choices when they feel bored. It becomes easier to avoid this daily battle when you establish definite rules for screen time for weekdays and weekends. However, parents must practice incredible patience every day to reduce screen time for kids.
Enroll your child in a sport he/she always wanted to play. Read and write stories and paint with your children if they are on the creative side. Create a schedule that incorporates all activities including some screen time as you wean your child off mobile devices.
Set at least two hours a day for having family meals, discussions, or doing something together. Take your kids to a local park or somewhere they can stretch their muscles and breathe some fresh air. If you live in Lahore, here are some hangout places for kids to have unlimited fun and enjoy some gadget-free time.