Digital devices have become such an integral part of our modern lives that if they got taken away, we’d probably be handicapped. It’s an essential tool for communication but like everything else in life, if used in excess, it can be damaging, especially for children.
Excessive screen time may result in irritable, sleep-deprived kids which is becoming quite a common occurrence in affluent countries where technology has already occupied the bedroom. It also lower motivation, concentration and overall mental health. However, avoidance is not the solution.
Children of all ages use gadgets either passively or interactively and as much as it can be a major distraction from quality family time, homework and motor skills, it can also be a useful tool to develop creativity and learning. It can also help parents in monitoring kids and managing their screen time.
If you’re wondering how all this can be done, keep reading to see how you can raise a responsible child in a tech-saturated world.
Technology is a double-edged sword and there are surely days you wish you could just unplug and stay off, but there are also many reasons to keep it in our lives: it connects us to our loved ones who are far away, helps us organise our busy lives and give us a hand in parenting as well. It will certainly never replace face-to-face interaction, but it can open more doors for communication.
Scheduled screen time
Every parent knows how challenging it is to set boundaries and stick to them. It seems as though kids are born to overstep them but you need to be adamant and consistent. Experts recommend limiting screen time to one hour a day for under-fives and putting priority to play, physical activity and healthy sleep for older kids.
By limiting and scheduling screen time you’ll set up a healthier daily routine and prevent your children from overuse.
Monitoring mobile device activities
Mobile devices have a very versatile use, from basic communication to reading, learning and designing. While there are excellent educational apps that help in learning, they can also become a distraction so it’s crucial you monitor how much and in what way your children use their devices.
You should stay on top of your kids’ activities online but you should also teach them how to be more responsible. Set up some basic rules they have to abide by. For instance, they must always answer your texts and calls, they can’t use their phones from 9 pm to 7 am or during family meals and they need to monitor their data limit. As you are the one who pays their bill, consider getting a prepaid kids bank card on which you can instantly transfer their monthly allowance so they can do the shopping but also finance their phones. With an app available for your phone, you’ll be able to see if your child is spending the money wisely or not.
Limitations and restrictions
Game addiction is a serious issue that can become potentially destructive. Whereas certain apps lead to destructive behaviour, others teach and encourage kids to be creative, learn problem-solving and develop various skills, from 3D animation to writing stories. As much as every parent’s intention to limit the screen time is good, the way of doing it can lead to a negative result. One way to do it is with an app-limit function that helps you monitor your child’s device app usage but you should also be open with your kids regarding their activities. Analyse together the time spent on games compared to the time spent doing homework. This can help you all prioritize activities but it allows your child to be proactive in managing their own device usage.
It’s surely not easy managing and controlling your children’s device use, but it’s important to establish a good relationship and strike that fine balance of limited screen time, responsible usage and parent support. Implement these tips and lead by an example!