Limiting screen time for kids

What is Screen time?

Watching any screen that takes you to the digital world which can be video games, laptops, tablets, television, mobile phones no matter how big or small the screen maybe refers to your screen time.

Harmful effects of Screen time: 

You can think of screen time like junk food for your brain. It is fun to eat but if consumed too much it can be bad for the child. It makes the child feel unhappy, addicted, angry, and frustrated when they are deprived of it. It also makes it harder for children to focus on other things like schoolwork. The attention span of the kid may become smaller and that can make the school harder. The child may find it hard to sleep and feel weak.

How much screen time is allowed?

It is recommended that children below the age of two should not be shown any kind of video content and once they cross that age till they turn five years old a maximum of one hour of screen time per day is all that they should be watching. You might be thinking, "My child really likes watching this show! They could be learning so much." But they actually learn a lot more from playing, exploring, and interacting with people than staring at a screen all the time. In fact, it is extremely important for children to be involved in other activities involving imaginative play, creative play, social interactions, reading. A child's brain develops rapidly in younger years. Language development takes place, they are learning fine and gross motor skills, memory is developing, mental and emotional development happens and all this happens only through active interaction not by merely staring at a screen.

Tips to limit screen time:

Make rules around Screen time: 

Set rules like when are your children allowed to watch tv, how many shows, what are they allowed to watch? Should they ask you before they settle to watch their show? Are there some activities they need to finish before they watch and so on. Ask yourself these questions and plan your children's watch time as this also helps them understand and adapt to this routine.

Quality control: 

This is subjective based on your interest or your child's interest. For example, your kid might like to watch a particular show like hey doggie, Peppa Pig, or cocomelon, etc. It is good to watch along with your kid so that you know what type of content they are exactly consuming. This makes you aware and you can ask them what they want to watch which makes them feel important. When the screen time is limited it is better that they watch good and high-quality content.

Don't use screen time as a distraction: 

Don't make your child get used to watching something on TV or Ipad when they eat because that will become their routine and that is what they will expect every time they sit down to eat. Don't be too hard on this, just make sure that it does not convert into a regular habit. Just remember that allowing screen time while eating provides a temporary solution but you are setting up yourself for big trouble later.

Plan the transition from watch time back to regular activities: 

If your child is engrossed in watching something they may find it hard to stop and it might be a tantrum. So you need to prepare them for switching the thing they are watching off. How do you do that? Well, there are a few ways to do so. As you see their watching time coming to an end just remind them by telling them that there are a few minutes left or they have one episode left and so on. You can ask them beforehand how many episodes are they planning to watch and come to a number that works for both sides and then keep a count down of the same. Also if the kid feels that they have some control they will react better as well.

Consequences for rule-breaking: 

These are also important as they help set proper boundaries for your children to understand what is fine and what is not. While it is important to include your children in deciding the watch time it is necessary for them to know that rules and schedules for the screen time need to be followed. For instance, if your child watches something without checking with you or throws an unreasonable tantrum when you switch the screen off even if you have followed all the steps then you need to set firm consequences for those actions and you need to stick by them. Make them understand that this behavior is not accepted and since they broke the rules they may not get to watch tv on the next day or the screen time will be reduced as a consequence or something like that.

Whatever rules you have set needs to be followed by the other caregivers or family members too because it is important to continue the routine with whoever might be monitoring the screen time for your child at that time. Find a balance of what works for you and your child, you neither want yourself or your child to get frustrated. 

Enjoy your time and work with them to learn yourself too. Finally, it is your responsibility to send them fully equipped into this big wide world!