If you ask parents about their biggest parenting challenge, they would say that it’s controlling their child’s screen time. Children these days are hooked to their screens with multiple apps and games to hold their attention. They are distracted during studies and are mentally absent during conversations. Physical activity has become minimum to zero and, the situation is getting worst with time.
To prove our point, let’s consider a 2017 study by the University of Montreal. According to the research, kids playing “shooter” games can affect their hippocampus (a part of the brain) and cause loss of brain cells. That’s a serious concern!
So what can you do about it? You can turn their screen time into something fruitful. If you teach your child to use screen time mindfully, then they will use it well and to a limited extend. How can you accomplish that? Let’s find that out in this article.
5 tips to make the best out of your child’s screen time
Set a limit
They say that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. The same goes for screen time. Too much time spent even for healthy activities online can affect your child’s health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of two should not be exposed to screens at all. For older children, two hours is sufficient.
If there are no limits to online browsing, then your child will spend most of his day online. He will neglect his health, won’t exercise, and won’t socialize physically. He will be lazy all day and, that will affect his behavior and general attitude. So set limits and make sure they are followed.
To make this task easy you, can follow these steps:
- Set daily screen time routines apart from which screens won’t be used unless very necessary
- Keep bedrooms, screen-free zones as using cell phones and laptops before sleeping disrupts the sleep cycle.
- Establish a no screen-time rule at the dinner table
- Set screen-free days so your children can learn to live without screens as well
- You can offer extra screen time as a reward when your child gets good grades, completes a task, shows good behavior, etc.
Encourage educational searches
Considering the types of content available online, your child can engage in:
- Listening to music and watching shows
- Play games and browse online to search for something
- Socialize online with friends and family
- Learn skills and engage in creative activities
While the first 3 types of interactions are alright to a certain extent, learning and creating things is something your child really needs to learn. Creativity is an important skill. Engaging in learning programming, creating art, making music, graphic and UX design, etc. Proves to enhance your child’s reasoning and decision-making.
At a young age, your child needs to explore his skills and learn new ones. For that matter, try to make screen time more about learning than just mindless time pass!!!
Make sure the content is age-appropriate
With so many ads and unhealthy sites roaming around, it’s important, to control what your child is watching. There are many apps and adblockers to make sure inappropriate ads and content doesn’t appear.
On top of that, another thing to keep in mind is to communicate with your child. Tell him what is right and what is wrong so that he can understand your concern. You don’t want to be that overprotective parent who appears overly dramatic all the time!!!
Enjoy family screen-time
Family screen time is a great activity to bond well as a family. You can play games together, watch shows and movies, talk to relatives, etc. You can even teach your child how to find relevant sites and ways to browse faster.
You will get to supervise them and even check the type of content they enjoy. A classic movie with family members adding their comments is a great memory every child should experience! You can also introduce new members to your child who lives far away through Skype and Zoom.
Such an activity will help your child get closer to your extended family and will help him develop positive feelings towards them.
Help them explore their skills through online learning
The scope of learning through online platforms is huge! Your child can learn things you couldn’t even imagine at his age! Skills like computer science to star gazing and from painting, to making hardware your child can learn anything he dreams about.
For that reason, you must make sure his efforts are channeled well. According to Forbes, creativity holds the most importance in the field of AI (Artificial Intelligence). So if your child loves games, encourage him to start making them. You can start from the programming language “SCRATCH”.
It’s highly interactive and helps your child learn programming through visual instructions. You drag and drop sections here and there and make games in a fun way. Learning online comes in many ways so you should explore that on your own depending on your child’s interest and age.
In this article, we explored 5 ways to make screen-time fun, beneficial and controlled. To make it possible, you have to
- Set a limit in the beginning before it goes out of control
- You should check the content your child watches
- Encourage your child to watch educational and productive content
- Have family screen-time to bond well
- Make sure your child learns new skills from the endless reserve of the internet
There are also other ways you can add to your strategy and, we highly encourage you to do so.
Masab Farooque is a Tech Geek, Writer, and Founder at The Panther Tech. He is also a lead game developer at 10StaticStudios.
When he is not writing, he is mostly playing video games