Since the introduction of smartphones, the way the world lives and communicates has changed radically. This change does not just affect adults. Studies have suggested that this increased use of technology among children has brought about multiple issues, from sleep problems to childhood obesity, depression and suicide amongst others.
In view of these negative implications, most parents today have restricted screen time by enforcing time-based limits. However, the fact is, policing screen time is too simplistic a solution. For today’s generation of kids who have grown up with smartphones, screen time is just like mealtime — a natural part of their lives. That’s why kids often fight back against screen time limits and find creative ways to circumvent them.
When it comes to our kids, we should be empowering them to find that balance. To do so, we should focus on mentoring instead of monitoring (screen usage). However, a focus on mentoring does not mean that there should be no screen restrictions. Here are some tips to raise a child who’s not addicted to technology:
Ban devices at mealtimes and bedtimes
Instead of allowing a specific amount of screen time, ban all devices from the dining table and beds. This should apply for every member of the family. During mealtime, replace the use of devices with interesting conversational topics. Use TWC's journal topics as talking points or discuss an interesting world event.
Reserve judgment during your conversations. Let your child express his or her opinions freely so that you are provided with a glimpse of their inner world. You will be surprised how such conversations will build closer relationships!
Plan screen-free family activities
On the weekends, replace screen time with screen-free family activities. Invite friends over for a Master Chef cook-out, or plan family trips to the amusement park. The purpose is to help your child understand that they can have fun without technology. Your child will learn to relate to others and develop much needed social and soft skills through these activities.
Assign household responsibilities
Whatever their age, give your child small opportunities to contribute. Get them to help set the dinner table, put away the toys, or load the laundry into the washing machine. When they’re busy with chores, there’s less time to spend on their devices. Moreover, doing chores can develop your child into a responsible and organised individual.
For better or for worse, technology is here to stay. Instead of lamenting over the ill effects of smartphones on our children, let’s be proactive in helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle.