“Don’t you realise that you have been watching TV since hours. Turn it off and do your homework.”
“TV all the time, why don’t you get up and play some games?”
Almost all of us relate to the dialogues mentioned above and many of you must be well capable of adding to the list. Well these have become a part and parcel of our daily lives, especially after the COVID period which gave us no other choice but to handover mobile, computer or laptops to the little advantage seekers along with the TV time that they were already enjoying more than required. Even we, the elders could not get unaffected, where some of it was required to fulfil the professional obligations (not talking about surfing social media or watching Netflix and the like).
Our act was backed by our willingness to make the children study for some time, to gain knowledge and make the home stay back days productive. With mothers busy in cooking scrumptious nibbles and meals with the added task of daily household chores (as the maids and helpers were enjoying their paid vacay at their homes) and fathers all engrossed in working from home, we thought we will turn the 24×7 free time of the children into productive time through the Online classes, which of course doubtlessly helped in continuing with the studies. However, the apple of our eyes were on the hunt for more screen time to achieve a level up in Minecraft, Roblox, or watch others making money by recording what they do at home, etc. Do you relate to what I have written?
Let’s get to the point now. There may be plethora of reasons for the upward inclination in the screen time of the children. However, with the shift to routine and the need to abridge the learning gap, there is a dire need to reduce the hand handled screen time as well as TV time of the kids. And if you think that they will obediently handover the phone or the remote to you, just on your word, it is a hope against hope hopen.
On a serious note, excessive use of technology and screen time may result in various mental, emotional as well as physical health issues such as obesity, educational lacunae, negative behavioural changes, sleep problems, disconnect with family, etc.
Well folks! A stitch in time saves nine! Where there is a will there is a way, we have a few solutions here to stay.
Watch your own screen time
As parents we take all the liberty of taking our screen time at whatever time of the day or night and even though you reason for it with the children, they won’t buy it and would start following your steps. Watch television or surf the phone only for a limited period as you are the role model for your next generation.
Family screen time
Setting a particular time when the elders and the children are allowed to watch television or use phone, and turning it off instantly when the time is over, will surely pass on the message to the children that if elders are abiding by the set time, even they ought to. Not only this, you could watch family oriented movies or some informative programmes together.
Unplug and attach
When you show that your family is more important to that any screen time, the children are sure to observe and ingrain the same. When your child wants you to listen to him/ her, while you are in the middle of an interesting episode of the much awaited series, without any further ado turn it off and be all ears to your child. Enjoy a play time or laugh time with the family whenever you can, your child’s interest will gradually shift to the fun time with you. The only requirement is that it is a fun time, not the scolding time.
A gradual reduction vs. no screen time
Had you been in place of your child, what would you like – reduced screen time or no screen time? Children are sensitive towards how the task is being placed in front of them, as a slight change, or as a punishment. If you bluntly refuse them any screen time, it would have a negative impact. Whereas, if you talk to them about reducing the screen time and replacing it with play time, or fun time, the hesitation in the beginning would soon go away when they start enjoying the other activities.
Make no screen zones at home
I read it somewhere and it clicked. Making no screen zones at home is a nice way of denying the usage of screens in that area and at that time, without using words to say no every now and then. You could do this while and where you have the family meal time, even if they are eating alone, before going to sleep, study area and time, etc. As such even studies have revealed that there should be no television in the bedroom. For that matter, we can even keep a designated place for the mobiles to be kept before going to bed.
Have fun time outside
Make a routine to go outside with your children for a walk or engage in outdoor playing. Not only will it raise the happiness quotient, it will also add to a healthy body and mind.
These methods of screen time reduction may seem a big task, but as you make it a routine, the benefits will get unfolded. Talk to your kids, explain them the hazards of extended screen hours. A healthy discussion is better than forceful decisions.