Technology is growing exponentially, and so is our dependency on it. Whenever there is a conversation about the rapid influence of technology, “Screen Time” is the first word to pop up.
Screen time is the time spent on activities that involve a screen, such as watching TV, playing video games, etc. Since all of this is done sitting idle, it hinders the physical activeness that people earlier possessed.
While there is nothing wrong with making life easier through technology, it is imperative to be engrossed to a certain limit.
Kids and Screens
In today’s time, adults are surrounded by tech for a large part of their days, mostly due to occupational requirements. However, if kids start spending the majority of their time using devices, it is alarming, as kids are more prone to addiction to technology if overused.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, on average, 8-18-year-old kids spend about 7.5 hours on screen, out of which almost 4.5 hours are spent watching television.
As per Vivo, the average use of smartphones in India has gone up by 25 per cent to reach a total of almost 7 hours of screen time per day, and that’s just smartphones.
Know the Risks
Parents may not always know what their kids are watching or how long, and thus, the child may be exposed to:
# Violence: Kids tend to love action movies, especially those involving guns and fistfights. Further, they might come across some hate speech or videos of violence/riots.
# Unsafe Stunt Videos: Many movies and TV shows show dangerous stunts. Kids might get attracted to such content and end up trying the same stunts.
# Use of Substances: If unsupervised, kids might get a hold of age-restricted content that involves the use of substances such as alcohol. This might adversely affect children.
# Explicit and restricted content.
Since there are extremely high chances of a kid getting addicted to screen, there can be the following repercussions:
# Sleep issues.
# Avoidance of spending time with family and friends.
# Insufficient outdoor activities, leading to weight problems.
# Mood swings.
# Lower grades in school due to lack of concentration.
How Much is too Much?
Babies younger than 18 months must not have any screen time. However, video chatting with family is an exception, as it comes under quality time with friends and family.
Toddlers that are 18 to 24 months old can use screens under the supervision of a caretaker. For kids about 2 or 3 years old, the screen time should not be more than 1 hour.
However, not all screen times are equal. For example, educational games with your kids and video calling with friends and family are exceptions.
Ensuring Quality Screen Time
To ensure quality screen time for your little ones, you can undertake these steps:
# Review programs, games and Apps: One of the best ways to keep your child familiar with the world of tech harmlessly is by reviewing whatever movie, TV show, game or app they are engaging with.
# Seek out interactive options: There are various platforms online that engage your child, such as The Real School Of Montessori. Rather than basic swiping and staring, such interactive options enhance your kids’ analytical skills, responsiveness and understanding quotient.
# Use parental controls to filter online content: There are times when you cannot keep an eye on what your kid is watching online. So, use parental control on portals and choose what your kid can access.
# Discuss the programme: When watching any programme with your kids, discuss what you’re watching and educate them about advertising and commercials. This way, you can ensure that they are using critical thinking while watching.
Controlling Screen Time
There is no need to use any controlling measures if your kid is not latching on to a screen all the time. However, if it is getting tougher by the day to limit screen time, you can undertake the following controlling measures:
# Limit your own screen time.
# Turn off the TV when not in use.
# Keep screens away from your kid’s bedroom.
# Set daily or weekly screen time limits and curfews.
# Prioritise unstructured playtime, in which children play with no specific learning objective(s).
# Create tech-free zones or times for activities like art lessons, dance lessons etc.
Using these methods may help you bring your child’s screen time back in the green.
Kids are extremely sensitive and vulnerable to anything around them, and thus being a parent, it is your duty to protect them from negativities. It is important to understand the need for screen time limits and take necessary actions regarding the same.
To engage your kids in something meaningful and valuable, check out The Real School Of Montessori’s free trial class and ensure good all-around exposure for your kids. The Real School Of Montessori promotes productive screen time through interactive learning and one-on-one mentoring. The article mentioned the need and ways to control screen time. However, if you are still concerned about your child’s screen time, talk to your paediatrician or family physician.