It is a digital age. There would hardly be a single kid who is unaware of the digital devices around them. The more portable these devices are becoming, the more prone children are getting to their use. You will find children everywhere operating digital devices like a pro. Even 2 years olds are more verse and tech-savvy in such devices than you can imagine. 

Screen-Time: Do This Instead To Control The Screen-Time

It is a digital age. There would hardly be a single kid who is unaware of the digital devices around them. The more portable these devices are becoming, the more prone children are getting to their use. You will find children everywhere operating digital devices like a pro. Even 2 years olds are more verse and tech-savvy in such devices than you can imagine. 

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

Yeah sure! Your kid is a genius. But did you know that a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics states that excessive use of digital devices can change the structure of your child’s brain. It can affect their cognitive and language development skills. Which can very much make mental disorders a big concern and may even hinder their school life.

Several health associations and clinical psychologists have warned again and again regarding excessive digital screen use. Children at a young age require face-to-face interaction rather than a sedentary screen-time. Especially at an early age, children are going through very critical developmental stages. These developmental stages are the basis of their personality and will affect their future life. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also suggested some screen time guidelines:

  • Children under 18 months should have NO screen-time. The only exception is video calling with friends and family.
  • 1.5 to 2 years is the time when you can introduce digital media to your children. The screen-time should be limited to 15 -30 minutes a day.
  • From 2 to 5 years, screen-time should be limited to not more than an hour a day.
  • Children over 6 years are allowed to have their screen time for not more than 1.5 hours a day. The screen time mustn’t make up for their physical activity and sleep.

The Reality About Screen-Time

But, do these guidelines above really account for the reality? We all know the answer is a big fat No. 

However, I don’t blame you. I can tell you with the first-hand experience that parenthood has its tolls. If there’s anything that may help simplify parenting then we hop on the opportunity. Digital devices rescue parents at the time of need. That’s the truth!

Additionally, families are becoming distant, life more challenging, and kids more demanding than ever. In all this chaos, I’m sure it seems the best option to handover the digital devices and take a moment of relief and for yourself. Sure, later every parent feels the guilt of exploiting the screen-time range. But whatever gets the work done. We all are struggling with this daily. 

Also, it is important to point out that not all screen time is bad. You should also keep in mind that today, everything is online. Even schools, homework, projects, social communities, and even family members. The screen-time we should be concerned about is the one which includes activities of the past time. Like playing video games, watching cartoons and scrolling through silly YouTube videos, etc. 

When a parent realizes that the screen-time is getting beyond control. They take immediate and strict actions. Like taking away the devices, becoming loud and even violent sometimes. Such behaviors affect the parent-child relationship. Your child will retaliate and things will get messy.

To efficiently control the screen-time you need to understand your child and act like a smart parent.

Things To Do Instead To Control Screen-Time

Now here’s what you really need to do. 


1. Take a chill pill. Don’t overstress yourself on the time limits. 

Relax! There’s no hard and fast rule that you have to follow. The more you stress about the limits, it will definitely reflect in your actions. Just keep in mind that you have to cater to the situation. For example, if you are at an important place and your child doesn’t seem to calm down. Then it’s okay if you extend the limits a bit more than usual.


2. Focus on the child and the content

You know your child the best. It should be easy for you to figure out what your child enjoys the most. Like if your child likes puzzles. Then let him play puzzles on his digital device and discourage the use of sedentary content.  It is very important to keep an eye on the content your child is using.

Content that engages your child is actually much better than watching cartoons. Such content can be as easy as using the finger to color a figure or playing brain games on the phone. Anything that encourages brain activity is better than sedentary content like watching cartoons.


3. You are the role model. Act like one

You are an idol for your child. They like to duplicate the behavior they observe. If your child observes you being on your phone all the time then, 100 percent, your child will copy that behavior. And when you will say no to screen-time then your child will most likely retaliate thinking that this is what mama or dad does. Then why are they stopping me?


4. Digital devices should be a privilege and not a right.

Children literally think that they own their parents and everything around them. That should not be the case! Your children should very clearly understand that it’s a luxury and a privilege for them to enjoy these digital devices. Their parents have full autonomy to whether to give or take-away the devices. They have no right whatsoever to use or take any of the devices around them.


5. Don’t reward screen time.

Rewarding screen-time would definitely encourage your children to be at their best behavior only when they are promised plenty of screen-time. Instead of screen-time, continue with the low-cost or no rewards for positive behavior. Children should behave like proper humans without expecting any returns. Of course, there is no hard and fast rule.

If you feel like rewarding sometimes, that’s fine too. It will boost their morale and keep them on track. But making rewards a habit is not a good parenting trick.


6. Set rules.

I believe every household should have a set of rules to run smoothly. These rules don’t have to be generic. You can form your own rules as per your household and with mutual understanding. For example, a simple screen-time rule can be – No phones on the dinner table.

The purpose of house rules is to set clear boundaries that your kids have to comply with. Screen-time rules should make it clear when and where your kids are not allowed screen-time. Hence they shouldn’t bother about even asking for it.


7. Set a schedule.

Especially young children from 2-6 don’t know what they are supposed to do. Having a schedule will make it easier for them to understand what they should do after completing a certain task. You can add screen-time in the schedule and your children would know when they can have their devices.

Schedules are also great to discipline your children. The most important point though is to strictly follow the schedule. You can use easy and fun tools like fridge magnetic planners to plan your week. It will be a fun activity every week to set the schedule with your kids. 


8. You can use family apps to control the screen-time

There are plenty of fantastic family apps available on ios and android devices that you can easily use to monitor and control your children’s screen-time. There are multiple options and settings you can choose from on how strictly or to what extent you would like to control the screen-time.

I would suggest being considered and don’t exploit their privacy. Monitor and control only what’s necessary. Going overboard with these apps may also disturb your parental relationship. Read more about what you can do.


9. Communication is essential with your children as well

Parents don’t seem to realize that communication is key when it comes to building trust with children. You cannot force everything on your children. Communicating with your children about the negative aspects of digital media is equally important.

Explain to your kids why digital devices should have an allotted time. And how it may hurt them if used unadvised.


10. Replace screen-time and engage with your kids

There should be something screen-time can be replaced with. You cannot expect your kid to leave the screen-time and then do nothing. Like I said, children like knowing what they are supposed to do.

What can be better than engaging with your children in a fun, authentic, and positive way!

Introduce reading, puzzles, board games as an alternative to screen time. Brain games for clever kids is one of my favorite books for puzzles. Real-life interactions are a million times better than screen time. Your children will have a much better time enjoying and playing with you that they will forget and mentally replace screen-time with special time with you. 

Parenting is tough. Don’t beat yourself up for such mistakes. Observe your children and learn how to parent. Read more about some of the parenting techniques that aren’t beneficial for children anymore.

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