Take out a minute, step out of your house in a public place and just look around. If you are also living on planet earth, soon you will see a kid glued to a phone or tablet screen as big as their face. The 21st century has amazed us with some incredible advancements in technology. One such advancement is the invention of mobile phones, which are helpful and a great source of entertainment. Hence, most parents hand over smartphones or tablets to their children, as it is the most convenient solution to boredom and tantrums. But they don’t realize, just like tobacco and alcohol, screen time can also become an addiction if it is not regulated. It can also damage the health and relationships of a person.
According to research, there is strong evidence that proves younger kids exhibit addictions than adults. One of the reasons has proven to be unregulated screen time. So, suppose your kid spends a considerable amount of time on smartphones. In that case, you will observe a significant change in their mental health and behavior. Your child’s common signs of screen addiction are losing interest in other activities, lying about extensive usage, escaping a lousy mood, etc. So if you find any of such symptoms, it means you should check your child’s screentime. According to pediatricians, screen time varies for different age groups. Suppose the screen time for school-age children is different from those younger. Soon after the pandemic struck, we are all glued to screens, with kids getting more exposed to it because of online schooling. So if you wish to find effective ways to break your child’s screen addiction, here we are with some tips that can be helpful:
1. Be a role model for your kids
Children idolize their parents for everything. They are great at mirroring whatever you do or tell them to do. Hence, before you binge-watch your favorite Netflix series, keep in mind that your kid will take cues from it. We understand that watching tv is an excellent way of relieving stress, but try not to watch at least when your kids are around. This way, you can set a good example for them. Similarly, it is also advisable to turn off the television when no one is watching. You should also avoid using mobile phones aimlessly, scrolling from one application to another. Try to read a storybook or a magazine that creates a positive impact on your kid.
2. Spend some quality time with your kids
Children are playful, especially when they are younger than ten years. And they are even more playful when they have their parents around to play. So, your children will never be interested in watching cartoons if they have you sitting on the floor, playing with the toys, and teaching them new things. Hence, you will have to stretch your imagination a little more to be creative. It helps reduce the screen time as well as when your child gets older; they will include you in every little thing they do. You can pretend to be a horse or train. You can play with dolls or cars as per your child’s interest.
3. Encourage healthy activities
Your objective is to reduce the screen time of your kid. So before you implement any screen time reduction rule, ensure that you have a better alternative. The activity should be as engaging as playing a video game or watching a cartoon. You can offer them board games, painting, or a storybook. The list is endless, but your focus should be on activities that interest your kid. Hence, when you limit their screen time, you will have an exciting activity on the other end that will compel the child towards it. Similarly, you can also tell them about the benefits of reducing screen time. In addition, ensure that there is a specific time in a day where everyone disconnects their device and has good family time.
4. Set a schedule
Implementation of rules is even more effective when you set a schedule. This strategy is comparatively more effective for older children. By setting a schedule, your kids will know the limit of their screen time. Entertainment available at all times allows them to take undue advantage. Suppose they watch a cartoon that airs at 8 pm. So, you can set their watching schedule from 8 till the time cartoon ends. And ensure that you turn off the television as soon as it ends. After that, engage them in another activity like book reading or painting. This way, the transition becomes smooth and more manageable for them to adapt.
5. Show consistency
If you make your kids follow a strict rule that allows a specific time for the screen, they will abide by it. However, sometimes, they will lose your respect and set any rules if you give them even the slightest hint by wavering on it. They will whine and cry, knowing you will bend and allow them some extra time. So ensure that you don’t get emotionally blackmailed. Try to reinforce screen time by turning off the television and other devices when not in use. Ensure that your kids don’t have televisions in their bedrooms. Similarly, take away their devices before bedtime to sleep peacefully without any distractions.
6. Invite your kids friends sometimes
What could be a better way to reduce screen time when your kid know they have someone to play with and kill boredom. Hence, invite your kid’s friends frequently at home for some playtime. It gets even better when other kids’ parents also struggle with screen time reduction. This way, everyone is on the same page and has the same objective. When the friends join together, they do more physical activity like running or jumping. They can even go outside, take some sunshine and play in the garden. Playing with friends allows them to make a stronger bond and socialize. Some kids fear being socially isolated when you reduce their screen time but having friends helps them get over this feeling.
Kids are kids; they will cry, whine, and even might not talk to you for several days. But if you start pitying them, your efforts will go in vain. Hence you have to be firm in front of them and not react to their response. So once you have made rules, stick to them and ensure your kids follow them. Monitor them regularly and change your rules according to their behavioral changes.