Gadgets are now a ubiquitous aspect of our lives and our kids’ lives too. But what if we took steps to encourage a healthy relationship with these devices while still engaging in other activities?
Technology has completely moulded the way communication is perceived these days. This “wonder of technology”, has been valued more than friends, irrespective of their age. The most affected segment is the younger generation.
Everywhere we look children are staring either into cell phone screens, or tablets. Taking into consideration the increasing dependency on gadgets and screens, it isn’t surprising that children are spending more time with gadgets. This dependency worries parents, leading to search for alternatives and tools to take their children off gadgets. The question arises: How can parents limit or keep the child away from gadgets?
It is not possible to cut short children’s interaction with gadgets in a single day, but there are ways in which screen time can be converted into healthier play time. Here are some suggestions.
Simple methods to reduce screen time for children
1. Monitoring and regulating screen time
Being a parent it is your duty to encourage healthy behaviour and limit the unhealthy ones. This may involve making tough decisions for your children.
a) Limit screen time– If you want to break a child’s interaction with gadgets, the foremost thing that needs to be done is setting a time limit. Keeping children in the loop while deciding a time slot makes them have their say which is likely to be followed. Set limits and allow complete freedom within those boundaries.
b) Make changes gradually– Do not ban the child from using the gadget in one shot. Be smart, and make changes gradually. Introduce new activities and make the child involved and engaged such that less time is spent on gadgets.
c) Be a role model– It is advisable to cut short your own screen time because kids imitate their parents. Children gravitate towards the behavior of their parents. If the child sees the parent reading a book, they are likely to read; if they see them using a gadget, so will they.
d) Avoid buying gadgets – Parents should not be buying gadgets for their children just because others in their social circle may have them. There is nothing lost, if children do not have access to smart devices. It is likely that the child is going to be smarter without smart phones. If the child throws tantrums, stay calm and be firm. It will soon pass.
2. Introduce more engaging alternatives
Keeping in mind the child’s interests and capabilities, start looking for alternatives.
a) Encourage hobbies– Hobbies help in taking the child off screen. Pick up activities which are of interest to the children like dancing or painting.
b) Spending time for games– Toys play an important role in learning and development of children. Sports and physical games like hopping or jumping hoops always excite them. Games and toys are one of the easiest ways to take the child off screen.
Apart from taking the child off screen there is an added benefit of enhancing emotional development. Get your child toys that are challenging, engaging and make the child “learn through playing”. It is through play that a child first learns to make decisions and solve problems. Some toys that would engage the child are:
- Sand pendulum– This science toy is a wonderful way for children to experiment and see the results of their experiment. Children can independently swing the cup the way they like it, in different directions, adjust the length of the thread, change the cup and control the amount of sand to form interesting patterns with different combinations. It improves the visual tracking skills in children by the movement of pendulum.
- Hopping number line– Children love making the frog jump using their hands to reach the desired leaf. Each point on the number line depicts a real number and the frog helps them understand that moving forward is addition and moving backward is subtraction. This makes the child understand the number sequence effortlessly. These toys are from the range of Skola Toys and have been created with the specific purpose of constructive engagement. These toys not only keep the children off screen but also are a great aid in development.
- Spend quality time with child– Family time has a significant impact on screen time as well as in child’s mind. Going for walks, short trips gives way to conversations. These conversations provide an opportunity to interact with your child and for him or her to share things with you. Nothing better to distract your child than having an engaging conversation with you. Parents are likely the only people in the world who are truly interested in what the child has to say and what the child feels. Engage with them in games that are stimulating like Pictionary and simple word games.
So parents, get smart and avoid smart devices, and other technology that is likely to take away from your child’s development.
Engage your little ones in toys and games that make them independent thinkers and simultaneously aid their emotional development.