Whether it’s the television, computer or mobile devices, screen time is inevitable in the lives of modern children. Kids today no longer spend the majority of their free time playing outside, running freely and enjoying the outdoors. They’d rather stay indoors and spend hours in front of TV screens, iPads and smartphones. While screen time isn’t entirely a bad thing, considering that there are helpful educational apps and programs, too much screen time can be detrimental to their overall growth and development. When young children get hooked on electronic devices, it can lead to irreversible damage to their developing brains. This is why too much screen time is strongly discouraged. So how do you manage screen time among kids?
Monitor your child’s screen time
It’s true what they say that things that get measured can be managed. This applies to your child’s use of electronics. If you haven’t been doing it, now is the best time to start tracking how much time your little one spends in front of a screen. Regardless of the device or what they’re doing, write down the number of hours they spend on these gadgets. Do it for at least a week so you can get the average. This will then tell you whether or not your kid has been getting too much exposure to screens.
Try to reduce the number of screens and electronic devices
Having too many electronic devices around the house makes it easy for your kids to get access to them. If possible, reduce the number of screens around the house. Do not install a television in the child’s bedroom. They shouldn’t be allowed to keep tablets or cell phones with them. If you think they’re at the right age to own a phone, set guidelines on its usage. If the phone is only going to be used to monitor their safety, consider getting them a phone that doesn’t have internet access.
Set a good example
Kids watch their parents all the time. To encourage your child to use electronics in a healthy way, you have to be their role model. Curb your screen time so that your child won’t think that it’s okay to spend a long time browsing your phone, playing games or watching movies. Pay close attention to how often you check social media, email or texts within the day, especially when you’re home. Put a conscious effort to limit these habits when you’re around your kids. Spend more quality time with your little ones as this will not only model healthy electronic use, but adequate attention will encourage more positive behavior.
Create an electronic-free zone
There should be spots around your house where electronics are not allowed. One example is the dining area. This spot is designed for family meals, having a good conversation and spending quality time with each other. Don’t tolerate your kids playing online games or texting on their phones during meals.
Find ways to unplug as a family
Child or adult, we all need time to unplug from technology. It’s not healthy for anyone to be spending an excessive amount of time glued to electronic devices. So, why don’t you try to look for ways to unplug as a family? There are plenty of family activities you can enjoy together besides sitting in front of a TV. Try spending a weekend at the nearest beach or park. Bask under the sun and play outdoors. If the weather doesn’t permit it, you can still have fun indoors by playing board games or engaging in a reading activity. The important thing is that you’re building a bond and having a great time together without the aid of technology.
Let them understand why too much screen time isn’t healthy
It’s not enough that we tell our kids that they shouldn’t be watching too much TV, nor is it enough that we tell them that too many video games are harmful. What they need to understand is why too much screen is detrimental to their development. Explain the potential dangers that excessive electronics entail. Discuss these things with them and work with them to reduce potential risks.
Given these tips on reducing screen time for kids, it’s time to go back and ask how much time your little one spends in front of a screen on a daily basis. If you think they’re excessively exposed to electronics, this is the best time to step in and take control before these devices take full control of your child.
Here at Handprints Academy, we do our best to expose young kids to the kind of activities that will nurture their holistic growth and development. For more information, please feel free to give us a call.