“Back in our days” is a phrase every generation is chided with. Parents, teachers, mentors, and even older siblings use it as a metaphor to transport themselves back in time, where everything was happier, much better, and apparently rosier. Back in our days, we played outdoors, summer vacations meant cycling and endless play with rasna, mangoes, and lots of summer snacks! On the other hand, children today are glued to their screens – online classes, TV, phone, and then a tablet. Does this sound familiar? More importantly, can we blame them for this excessive screen time indulgence?
Let’s face it – COVID-19 or not, excessive screen time was a constant battle between children and parents. The pandemic has just pushed it a level higher, with schools forced onto screens. Is there a way to make peace without tearing our hair apart?
We at Sri Prakash group of institutions, the best school with good faculty in Andhra Pradesh, consulted and compiled a little list for you to optimize your screen time. As students, you must realize that excessive screen time can be detrimental, while as parents you must understand that screens are the way ahead. Children will share their world with screens in some form or the other from the moment they wake up. There is no going back to the stone age. Here are little ways to strike a balance and attaining healthy screen time exposure :
Set an example:
We cannot stress the importance of this enough. Kids, no matter what their age is emulated behavior around them. As primary caregivers, set an example if you want them to follow. You cannot be distracted with your phone watching funny videos, or replying to an e-mail as you tell your child to put that device away and read a book.
Spend quality time with your kids:
This one follows the first automatically. Spending time with extra stress on quality shows the child that there are things other than the screen he can turn to. It also helps increase attention span, and develop patience, listening, and humane soft skills.
Encourage physical playtime:
Inculcate and invest in a hobby. If required join your child in a sport. It will develop bonding and also serve as a diversion when they need a break to distress. Physiologically, psychologically, and hormonal sports and hobbies are known to condition the mind and body making them healthy, happy, and stress-free!
First, make rules that can be adhered to. And second, stick to them! Discipline is one thing, and maintaining consistency is another. Involve the kids in making rules – ask them how much they would like to watch or play, negotiate and arrive at an agreement on it.
Encourage activities that do not require screen time:
Good old reading, art and craft, cooking, and baking are all great ways to unwind after a long grueling day. If there is one activity that you must cultivate in your child, please make them read! It is an invaluable life skill that will teach them, save them and help them escape!
Don’t portray screen time as a reward Or as a punishment.
Do not use the device to encourage desirable behavior, like – Eat your vegetables and I will give you the phone for half an hour. This is essentially telling the kid that screen time is a reward, and abstaining from screen time is a punishment. We do not want that unhealthy relationship between the device and the child.
Talk to your kids about your concerns:
Kids are super smart these days. Tell them about sleep cycles, and how reduced sleep can hamper brain development, and why excessive screen time can be harmful. Do NOT scare them with unnatural pictures or fake news clippings. Remember to treat them fair and they will listen to you. Let them tell you what they want to use the device for. Most of the time it is for their entertainment, and if you show them more fun ways to stay occupied they won’t turn towards the screen.
No screen before bedtime:
Science tells us that screen indulgence before sleeping is the most common – everyone watches or scrolls before falling asleep – but is also the most dangerous. Not only is it getting the kid’s brain excited, and not helping him fall asleep, but also messing with the sleep cycle.
While these are some tips and broad guidelines to help your child cope, there is no magic formula. At Sri Prakash, we believe that every child is unique, and has to be treated in their own way. Sri Prakash has the distinction of being the best school in Andhra Pradesh, with proven pedagogy, and unique teaching methods. Providing the best all-around development is our forte, and with over 4 decades of experience, we know education like none other!