How to keep your young ones away from the screen during lockdown?

Things are evolving at a very fast pace and there is no stopping that. Back in the 90’s, the television and the old stereo might have been the only electronics around the house and that was addictive too. Still, children had playmates, picnics, school work which was to be done on paper, open parks to sweat and get dirty in every day. But now the children, especially since the last two years, have no choice but to stimulate their minds only with gadgets. They have to get education and even entertain themselves through these gadgets. I remember one day I found some kids in the park and I sometimes talked with them. So, I asked them do you play any sports? They replied that yes, we play football. I told them great, we should play sometimes and they said sure you can come to our house. They were referring to the FIFA video game. What surprised me was the level of conditioning these children underwent that even the mention of a sport was perceived as some virtual gaming.

Is all this the fault of the children? I don’t believe so. If there are any infants around your house then you must have noticed that even infants want to reach out for phones of their mothers or fathers for songs or videos because a gadget is so common lately that it seems like an essential part of life. They cry and throw tantrums if they are not given the phone and the only way to calm them down is to surrender to their demand. A child also wants it as much as adults do because they are competitive that way, you can no longer fool an infant with a toy phone, they know the difference.  

Is this addiction bad?

  • Yes, it is, the vision gets compromised due to constant exposure to the screen light, the posture also gets affected and the stimulation these gadgets provide with endless ads and feeds and such easy ways of entertainment, it is very easy to get addicted to.
  • Children are taking classes online which is boring for them and since they cannot step out, they tend to entertain themselves with virtual games and videos.
  • It is essential to understand that just because we cannot step out, does not mean that the only way to pass the day is through gadgets.
  • This time can be used by the family to form a bond and understand each other better. It is a perfect time to grow as a family and inculcate some good habits in your children.

Here are some tips on how you can reduce the screen time of children and not let the gadgets overpower your children: –

  1. Make a flexible and not so strict routine with your child where you both understand each other and their liking is also considered.
  2. Set a routine for your child in such a way that in the morning when they wake up, the first thing they do is not open the phone or the laptop for logging into their classes online. Make them wake up a little earlier so that they can have some time to stretch, have a good breakfast and start off their day on a positive note.
  3. If you are someone who exercises in the morning, try to make your children join you. Children at their age are very flexible and full of endurance but they tend to lose it over time if these abilities are not fostered and practiced.
  4. While they are taking classes online, make sure they are maintaining a good posture so that their body posture and habits do not get compromised.
  5. Make a rule in your house that there is no screen while eating. Watching something while eating is a very unhealthy practice and it makes one overeat and they don’t even appreciate the food served. Try adopting the practice of eating together as a family and have some discussions while enjoying your meals.
  6. If your children enjoy virtual games, fix time for that and do not let them exceed the time limit. This can be tough because gaming can be addictive but with the right approach you can teach your children to not let this overpower them.
  7. Find time to play some board games with your children or if there are any sports complexes in your area that are functional and not over crowded, take them for a game of badminton with you if they enjoy that.
  8. If your children like dancing or singing, promote that, make them practice it. You can have various events in your home like a poetry night, a book club where you all read books together or a small theatre play you can do together.
  9. The point is to not make life at home mundane and boring and find things that you can enjoy together. When children used to go to school, there were plays, events, art, music and dance competitions. Let all this still be a part of your children’s lives and this is a good opportunity for you too as an adult to be able to connect to the child in you.
  10. Encourage your child to write on paper so that they can be in touch with how it feels to do something without typing and without a gadget.
  11. If your child likes to watch movies or shows, make sure that they are watching age-appropriate content.
  12. At the end of the day, make sure that your child is going to sleep with no gadgets around them. The sleep cycle is important at this age and appropriate rest is very much needed. Make a rule of no phones or gadgets at least for an hour before bedtime.

Lastly remember that this is a tough time for them as much as it is for you since in their early days itself, they are being deprived of outings and outside exposure. So be kind and tolerant, take things slow, do not be too authoritative. Be reasonable in your approach, things are better understood by children when they are explained why this is important for them. 

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Urvashi is a post graduate in clinical psychology and wishes to get closer to her goal of healing others and herself on the way. “She knows there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all.” Bob Dylan
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