How To Manage Your Child's Screen Time During Lockdown
Created by Shalini Singh Updated on Jun 03, 2020
"It is a struggle to balance keeping children happy and entertained while also making sure that they follow the COVID-19 social distancing rules."
This is what Pooja said when I was on a zoom call with some of my friends on Saturday evening. And her words echo with almost every parent's thoughts. Covid-19 has made us rethink everything.
Being stuck at home for months can get frustrating, especially for children who are so used to going out and playing with friends. Self-isolation and social distancing has left them with no option but to look for avenues at home. This has increased their time on screens, for learning, pursuing interests, exploring new things and connecting with friends and extended family.
Numerous researches in recent times have seen that traffic to children's apps and digital services has soared by significantly since social distancing measures came into place.
Having said that, it is also important to emphasize the fact that too much time on the screen can affect children's health and behavior in many different ways. The need of the hour is to strike the balance. This takes me to what my other friend on the same call said.
Neha, mom to a 9 year old talked of developing screen time rules. She said, "Yes I don't want my son to be glued to the screen all the time but we have to understand that given the current situation, an increase in your child's screen time is inevitable. I have my screen time rules and they are working for us. "
Screen Time and Children: How to Guide them?
1. Talk to your children: First and foremost, educate your children about the harmful effects of screen time and why it is important to reduce the screen time.
Also, let them know that this is an unusual situation and that their increased use of mobile phones and laptops is because they are not allowed outside. Remind them that this is temporary and unusual.
2. Monitor the Content : Make sure you protect your children from watching provoking and violent content. Check games, apps and programs before letting them view and play them. Look for options that engage your child, and not the ones that are only about swiping and staring at the screen.
You can also use parental controls that lets you monitor what your kids are doing online.
3. Educational Screen Time : Screen time is not always bad. Children can engage in quality screen time through children's channels, cartoons and videos that have educational content. This can strengthen their reading skills, vocabulary and improve their language.
4. Technology Free Zones: A lot of people swear by this. It means we create a digital free zone wherein we do not allow kids to use any electronic devices. This could be during meals or conversations. Also, make sure your kids do not use mobile phones at least an hour prior to their sleep time. It is important that kids stick to a proper schedule for activities on and off screen.
5. Social Connection: This is extremely relevant in todays times. Lack of human interaction can have an impact on children's social development. Schedule video calls with their friends, cousins and family members where they talk, discuss ideas and engage in activities.
6. Indoor games: Make sure your child balances screen time with offline games. Motivate your kids to read books, color, play board games and solve puzzles.
7. Household Chores: Engage your kids in household chores. Give them chores that are age-appropriate - could be washing vegetables, making dough balls etc. This will make them feel responsible. Make sure you appreciate them too.
8. Limit your own screen time : Last but not the least, keep a check on your own screen time. Afterall, it is important to practice before you preach.
Making Screen Time Part Of A Healthy Lifestyle: Quick Checklist
Keep a check on whether your child is using screens in a positive way and has a healthy approach to it. Make sure your child:
Is Physically active and healthy
Is Consuming Quality Content
Has hobbies and interests other than the ones on the screen
Enjoys and learns while using screens
Connects with others - online and offline
And is Happy
I am following these simple things to foster positive online and offline time for my kid. Please also share your ideas on how to effectively use screen time and strike a balance.