Written by Feba Maryann
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools and educational institutions started to rely heavily on electronic media to provide classes and other educational resources, consequently the amount of screen time children are exposed to has risen dramatically.
When we were younger, we only had access to at most one television set, hence it was easier for our parents to control our screen times. However today, kids have a number of devices to choose from, making it extremely difficult to put a curb on their screen times.
Let us now see the screen time trends in kids, why you should try to reduce it and how.
How Much Is Too Much?
Everyday we hear people or read reports that say kids shouldn’t be allowed to use electronic media for long hours at a stretch. But we rarely see one which says how much is too much? Or what is the threshold?
Experts suggest that 2 hours is the optimal amount of screen times for teens and adults. Whereas for children between 2 and 12 screen times should be restricted to one hour. And children below 2 years, should not be exposed to screens at all. However, today the average time spent on screens is about 10 hours.
A 2017 study found that people who have more than 6 hours of screen time a day are at an increased risk of depression. But however, some experts argue that why you spend time looking at a screen also matters. Spending long hours especially on social media has been found to be risky.
Why Should You Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time?
Yes, it may seem tempting to give your child access to a screen while you do your chores or take a break. But realise that when you keep doing this, you lose track of how much time your child spends looking at a screen.
Overuse of electronic media in children has been linked with many health risks such as:
- Increased risk of childhood obesity.
- Increase in aggression towards others.
- Losing focus easily
- Increased risk of diabetes and cancer
- Depression and other mental health problems
Additionally, using screens takes up the time during which kids are supposed to run around playing, learning and growing.
Reducing screen time has proven to improve both mental and physical well-being in children. Furthermore, they also show considerable improvement in their academics, creativity and other essential social skills.
How Can You Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time?
Start From Within
You may have to spend long hours looking at your electronic devices for work purposes or any other productive reasons, which you can’t reduce even if you want to. That being said we all use electronic media for leisure as well, try to reduce this dependency on electronic media.
Right now, you are reading this article using a smartphone, tablet, desktop or a laptop during your free time. Next time you are free, instead of sitting in front of a screen go out, spend that time with your kids, play with them, enjoy some quality family time, read a book or whatever you want to.
Don’t Gift Your Children Their Own Smartphones Or Tablets
“Why not, all of my friends have one?” is one question you should be prepared for. Sometimes you just have to say no. Your 9-year-old child does not need a tablet or smartphone for themselves. If you are concerned for their safety, buy them a base model cell phone that serves the purpose.
Keep Your Goals Realistic And Try To Be Empathetic
You getting inspired one day by some article like this and trying to incorporate those changes rapidly, will cause more harm than good in the long run.
The ultimate goal we have here is to prevent your child from being addicted to the screens. This cannot happen unless your child realises that using too much electronic media isn’t good for them. You have to inculcate that habit in them. If you take away all of their sources abruptly, they will try to find other sources and that wouldn’t solve anything.
Give It Your Own Twists And Tweaks
Every child is different, you know what will work in your child’s case than some article writer on the internet. Some parents establish Technology-free zones in the house, some find specific times when the whole family goes off the grid. Find what works best for you.
Encourage Other Activities
If your child loves drawing, singing, dancing or anything for that matter, encourage them to do that activity. Get them resources to advance into their area of interest. This will keep them busy and prevent them from spending too much time on electronic media.
It is imperative that your children understand the hidden problems with spending too much time using electronic media. If your child starts putting off important things for spending that time on video games, social media or anything similar, understand that it is time to put a curb on their screen time.