The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to lock ourselves indoors to protect ourselves from the deadly virus. Being a parent, you might be busy doing household chores and also doing your official work. But for your child, it might get extremely boring staying at home at studying. He or she might get restless to go out and play like they used to. But this pandemic has left us with no option but to keep them indoors.
You cannot always make your children study. So, handing over a smartphone, a video gaming console or just telling them to go and watch TV, might seem like the best options. But spending too much time hooked on those screens can be harmful to their mental and physical health.
Read on to know why and how to limit your kid’s screen time.
What are the effects of too much screen time for kids?
Yes, it is understandable that you have to balance official work and household responsibilities properly during this lockdown. You might not be able to stay with your child all the time. Switching on the TV may be the first option that comes to your mind. It might be fun and engaging for them, but you have to look out for these harmful effects –
- Watching too much TV can disrupt the attention span of children. They might seem less interested in studies
- Being glued to TV, laptops or smartphones before going to bed is not healthy. The blue light projected from these screens might disturb the sleep cycle and can lead to insomnia
- If children are spending too much time staring at their screens, this inactivity may lead to obesity, as they are not enough burning calories
- Watching shows or playing video games that depict violence can be harmful to a child’s mental health. He or she might practice violence in real life to solve problems
- It can also cause fatigue and neck pain
As the lockdown has stopped going outdoors for playing, it is not possible to completely stop your kids from using gadgets. You need to understand that they have to kill their boredom somehow. So, you have to adopt the following strategies to bring down the screen time to a healthy level –
Create a time table
Establish a time table for the kids which includes the hours he or she can watch TV or play video games. Instruct your child to play games and watch TV only during those hours. Include activities such as reading books, playing indoor games, painting and studying
Keep an eye out and make sure they are following the routine.
Create technology-free zones
You must instruct your kids to not use smartphones, laptops and video games all around the house. Some areas of the house must be gadget-free zones – such as the bedroom, dinner table or their study room. Tell the children to eat and sleep distraction-free.
Encourage them to spend more time with family members instead of smartphones. A sensible step is to not give the kids their own smartphones or laptops. They can use your devices.
Encourage your kids to spend more time in indoor activities such as painting, reading books, playing an instrument and crafts. Play indoor games such as ludo, carom, table tennis, chess, scrabble, Chinese checker – anything that might bring you and your children together. These type of activities also help in strengthening the bond between the family members.
This is a great time to help children explore their creative side. Give your children a pencil and a piece of paper, and ask them to write an essay/story or a poem. You can provide them with ideas to write on such as - school, friends, their aim in life, a cartoon character or an incident that fascinated them.
Other interesting indoor activities include dance and yoga. If you practice meditation, now can be a great time to teach it to your kids.
Another step which you can take for your little ones is to read them a story before they go to sleep. This will reduce their tendency to jump into bed with a smartphone! This will also show your little angel that you have time for them and make them feel loved.
Involve kids in household chores
You can encourage kids to help your household activities. Teach them to wash dishes, clean the vegetables and how to make balls from dough for chapatis. Always give them tasks according to their age. Teach them to clean their study table. Instruct them to keep their room neat and tidy always.
Making cleanliness a habit will help them develop other qualities such as discipline, time management and responsibility. If your kids are teenagers, teach the basics of cooking and how to prepare basic meals.
Monitor the content
Apart from all these steps discussed above, it is highly important to monitor the content viewed by the children. They must not be exposed to explicit, violent or aggressive content. Keep an eye out the types of games the kids are playing. Nowadays, there are plenty of shady people lurking online who create dangerous games. These games are addictive and generally target innocent kids.
So, keep a tab on their search history when they are not using the devices. If they are playing online games, frequently check on them while they are playing.
Instead of considering this lockdown as isolation, consider it as a boon. If you are a working parent, this is an ideal time for you to spend some quality time with your little ones, which they may have been longing for. Follow the steps mentioned earlier to reduce your kid’s screen time and increase family bonding.