We live in a time where we are surrounded by technology all the time. Smart phones have virtually become an extension of our very existence and it is almost impossible for people to go through even an hour without checking at least one of their digital devices. So what does this mean for children growing up in an age where adults spend more time online than with their families?
Children these days are using more technology than ever before and it is causing a number of behavioural and psychological problems.
Part of the issue is that modern parents tend to use smart phones and tablets as a distraction for their kids which means that children are handed over a device to make them stop crying, make them eat food or basically to keep them from bothering the adults. As a result, smartphones and tablets become the child’s first ‘addiction’.
To be fair to parents though, it is practically impossible to keep kids away from smartphones and tablets these days without the adults in the house being able to do the same. Children learn everything from the people around them and if they see mom, dad, grandpa and grandma glued to their screens all the time then they are definitely going to follow suit.
It is a well-known fact that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs did not allow his children to use digital devices at all. That is probably another extreme but parents nowadays need to consciously try to limit screen time for their kids and, yes, that include limiting the screen time for the adults in the house too!
I am no expert but I am also parent to a toddler so here are some tips that I feel help in limiting children’s online activity and, yes, some of them are very obvious:
- Get your kids involved in outdoor and creative activities. This will occupy their time and also expend their energy in a constructive way.
- Avoid using a smart phone or tablets in front of your kids as much as possible. This will allow you to spend quality time with them and will also avoid tempting the kids into wanting to use said devices.
- If you do need a screen to distract a child then use the TV as the first option. Now, TV has its own negative side effects (which I am not discussing here) but a child is more likely to get bored with the TV quicker if he doesn’t have control over the content. He is also less likely to go into a zombie-like state while in front of the TV!
- Set a fixed time during the day when kids can use technology. For example, there should be no use of devices during meal times. Also, set a limit as to how much screen time is allowed during this period.
- Use an app to limit screen time for your children. There are numerous apps that allow you to set a time limit for use after which the screen is locked. This will allow you to ensure that the time limits are adhered to.
- Monitor your child’s activities when using smartphones and tablets. Ensure that they are accessing educational and developmental content so that whatever time they spend on a device actually results in something useful.
While I do agree that smart phone and tablet use in children has more negative rather than positive effects, however, in the world that we live in today, it is not easy to keep little ones away from digital devices completely. So I hope that the above tips are useful.
Let me know in the comments below if there are any tips that you would recommend to help limit or completely eliminate children’s screen time.