Screens are everywhere and with schools also adapting to modern technology and setting up smart boards to teach kids – you can’t expect your child to not use screens. It’s an unrealistic expectation to hold from today’s generation. Instead, here’s what you can do – you can start managing screen time by setting a limit on the number of hours you want your child to watch screen. As parents, you can also set parental controls on your device and block channels that you do not want your child to see.
We all know how too much screen time can harm toddler development. Research has proven that excessive screen time can cause restlessness, lack of focus, speech delay and various other physiological and psychological effects on children. Our role as parents is managing screen time and using it in a manner that proves beneficial. According to eye specialists, here’s how much screen time is acceptable for kids according to their age group. You can refer to this insight or decide what’s best for your child depending on your situation.
- Average screen time for 0 to 18 months old – NO screen time except for video calling family
- Average screen time for 18 months to 2 years old kids – less than one hour every day
- Average screen time for 2 to 5 years old kids – less than one hour per week day, less than 3 hours on weekend
- Average screen time for 6 years and older– less than 2 hours per week day
While we stay glued to our screens, we can’t expect our children to leave screens either. Screen time control is the only solution to this problem. We are listing below some time tested tips to reduce children’s screen time. You can pick some ways to manage your toddler’s screen time better:
1. Choose games that are appropriate for your toddler's age.
When your child is engaged elsewhere, he won’t feel the need to stick to a screen. But you must give him age appropriate toys and play games that he will enjoy according to his motor skills and mental level. So, if you have a baby, she’ll enjoy playing peek-a-boo. A toddler might have fun playing hide and seek, while a four year old will enjoy puzzles, Lego Toy sets, and coloring books.
2. Stay away from the device yourself.
Children are always watching us even if they aren’t listening to us. So if you’re glued to your phone screen or laptop for work, your child would think it’s normal for him to spend as many hours in front of screens too. Children can’t differentiate between work and play and so to teach them screen time management, you need to manage your own screen time too.
3. Concentrate on having fun rather than learning.
We’re so bent on teaching our kids something new every single time we’re with them, that we take the fun out of the game and play. Just try to be present and involved with your child for some time that you set aside for them – in this time, give your child your undivided attention and gradually you’ll see they won’t ask for the phone as often.
4. Pick activities with easily visible visuals.
Kids are sensory learners and the more you’d get their senses involved in a play, the more they’ll learn while having fun. So, pick out activities or games that are bright and colourful and make them wonder out loud and give them the outlet to express their creativity.
5. Be firm about routine and time limits.
Parents set rules and kids test them, that’s how parenting works. It is our job as parents to be firm about our rules and routine and not let kids get away with breaking them. So when you set screen time for your kids, be consistent in not letting them have the phone for more than the set time and slowly, you’ll watch them abide by your rules much more easily.
6. Create screen free zones and times at home
You can choose which areas/occasions no one will use a phone at – be it the dining table while having meals or in the bed or in the study room. You can even decide that while the family is performing some traditional ritual, the phone is not allowed and thus teach your kids about creating and respecting boundaries and rules. This will also break their habit of grabbing at the nearest device every time they’re bored or free.
1. Can I give a screen to my 8 month old baby?
It is advised to not offer screens to children below 2 years of age. Instead, you can play audio files, rhymes and music to them or have them video call with family and friends.