Parenting

Managing Your Child’s Screen Time

Controlling your child’s screen time can be difficult with screens nearly everywhere, especially when the pandemic left us with no better alternative. If you are worried about the amount of time your kid is spending on screen daily, you are not alone. Although if you are trying to control it without planning any solid alternatives and considering how your child might react to it, it might invite added stress. So how do you plan an escape from screens for your child?

The mounting guilt working parents carry for not being able to spend quality time with their children sometimes makes them lenient towards kid’s dependency on devices. 

However, the majority of them find it difficult due to the lack of better alternatives. 

Source: Pew Research Center

It’s no secret that today’s kids and screens are inextricably linked. Everywhere you see, kids are glued to their phones, iPad, tablets, and televisions, which makes you wonder, how much screen time is healthy for my kids? 

Before developing Logical & critical thinking skills, young children draw from their surroundings, by watching and imitating the adults in their lives. Excessive screen time may limit a child’s capacity to watch and participate in the commonplace activities that they need to do in order to learn about the world.

How To Evaluate Screen Time

Children’s screen time has be evaluated in terms of quantities and also in terms of content. It’s important to remember that no one screen activity has the same impact as the other. You might think an hour watching a class might be productive screen usage and an hour of gaming as a waste of time. However, Playing immersive games can- 

1. Enhance Cognitive Functions & Memory

2. Be building blocks for Problem-solving, Analytical Skills and Strategic Thinking Skills

3. Improve Social Skills

Taking inspiration from this, Tekie has designed a blended learning method where our mentors use animated series and abstract sci-fi activities to teach Coding. Check out our free episode here.

That being said, you have to be mindful of the amount of time they spend playing games. learning to recognize the value of each activity might help shift your perspective a little and help communicate it in a manner that’s respectful to your child. If you can get your child to enjoy high-quality screen time, that would be a massive win for both you and your child. 

Focus On the Routine, Don’t Micromanage

Instead of being hyper-focused on limiting the amount of time a child spends on screens each day, find ways to balance your child’s day. Do you think your child gets enough sleep? Are you able to keep your family’s meals free of screens? Are you doing activities together as a family? Also, make sure that your media time is split evenly between consumption, creation, and connection. It’s also important for children to have regular interactions with family & friends. Also, having personal projects outside school makes them self-motivated and disciplined.

Keep Them Active

Excessive screen time will also lead to obesity in children if it prevents them from engaging in physical exercise.  You can encourage your child to take up at least one sport of their choice that can only be played outside. It keeps both their bodies and mind active and also keeps them away from screens.

Introduce Regular Screen Breaks

Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, believes that limiting the number of time children spend in front of computers is more important than worrying about the average amount of time they spend per day. Breaks are essential because they save the brain from being overstimulated and help to combat screen addiction. Children must be able to unwind without being stressed. 

For under 10s, Rosen recommends a time limit of 40 minutes followed by an hour of rest. There can be a limit of an hour for older pre-teens, followed by an hour off. It should last for more than an hour and a half for teenagers.

Give kids a five-minute alert before their allotted time is up. You can reward positive screen behavior with incentives, but keep in mind that this contradicts the general message of balance, so use it sparingly. 

What is the recommended amount of screen time for children?

The easy answer is that there isn’t any. There are none for children under the age of two. That’s right. Experts advise keeping babies and toddlers away from all computers. 

• Infant (less than 1 year of age): No screen time

• 2 years of age: Not more than an hour

• 3 to 4 years old: No more than one hour.

For teens, this is a difficult decision, mainly because homework often necessitates computer use. However, you can make it distraction free by ensuring they complete their tasks in time. Instead of controlling what kind of content they surf, you can help them set up their objectives and encourage them to complete it in due time. Setting up deadlines can be one way to avoid procrastination and it leaves you with free time to try other stuff. 

Parents should also determine if these restrictions are excessive and encourage some screen time freedom.

How to Monitor Screen Time

-Set a clear example, set boundaries, and have a conversation with your child over screen time, just as you would about anything else. 

-Interact with young children as they are watching television. This may include playing an instructional game with your child or discussing what you all saw on an age-appropriate TV show or film. 

-Before purchasing games or software for your kids, do some research. Make sure they are not based on stereotypes, promote violence or encourage bullying behaviour.

-Make sure your kid has plenty of non-screen time in their day. Unstructured playtime is essential for creative growth, so young children can have time to play away from screens every day. Put the devices away and engage with your child during family dinners and bedtimes.

One of the keys to making screen time good is to direct children towards activities where they are actively participating and creating rather than simply viewing. Be it a virtual class, game or projects, it’s also crucial that they have opportunities to engage with what they’re doing on screen.