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Tips to Reduce Child’s Screen Time

Everyone is stuck indoors because of the pandemic. Of course, certain sectors are starting to go back to normal or implementing new measures for them to continue with work. Even with the development of vaccination, many are still apprehensive about going outside for longer periods. This can result in more and more people wasting their time on their devices. In Singapore, even before the pandemic, it’s common to see a group or family who are together but are in their different worlds through their mobile devices.

Additionally, even at home, wherein families gather together for their meals and this time should be used to talk to each other and share what has happened with their day, technology has also taken over. Even when the adults aren’t using their devices, most likely the children are using theirs or even using the adults’ devices.

While it is true that technology helps in a lot of ways and children having their own devices can be seen as common now, there are still some risks with too much screen time for children. Adults can have problems with their screen time when they have more discipline than children, so it’s also understandable that parents should be cautious when their children are starting to show signs of too much screen time.

Developmental Issues

There are many applications in App Stores today that aim to help children learn. They may vary from learning about sounds and phonetics, nursery rhymes for toddlers, learning letters, and counting numbers. If you look at the most common App Stores, parents will see thousands of applications designed for children. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. This is why parents will consider introducing children to different gadgets as early as possible to help them learn through these apps. Not only will the children learn, but they will also be entertained by the animations and videos from the app.

However, it doesn’t mean that these apps are ultimately effective. Some experts claim that these apps will only foster addiction to gadgets since they are introduced to them quite early and may hinder or affect their cognitive development. Additionally, the effects aren’t seen overnight. Like addiction in adults, it will take a long time to see the pattern as well as with the effects. As such, during this time in the development of children, they are more prone to learning using shapes which is why they will ultimately be drawn to the animations of the apps.

Effects of addiction to mobile devices

There are many applications in App Stores today that aim to help children learn. They may vary from learning about sounds and phonetics, nursery rhymes for toddlers, learning letters, and counting numbers. If you look at the most common App Stores, parents will see thousands of applications designed for children. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. This is why parents will consider introducing children to different gadgets as early as possible to help them learn through these apps. Not only will the children learn, but they will also be entertained by the animations and videos from the app.

However, it doesn’t mean that these apps are ultimately effective. Some experts claim that these apps will only foster addiction to gadgets since they are introduced to them quite early and may hinder or affect their cognitive development. Additionally, the effects aren’t seen overnight. Like addiction in adults, it will take a long time to see the pattern as well as with the effects. As such, during this time in the development of children, they are more prone to learning using shapes which is why they will ultimately be drawn to the animations of the apps.

• Boredom in class

When children first go to school and start their formal education, they will meet their teachers and will be introduced to the system of learning through books or lectures. As a result of their reliance on their mobile devices, they may easily get bored with learning through traditional means as they will think that information can be gathered faster and more readily available through the Internet. While it’s not wrong to study smarter or work smarter, it will diminish the development of other values that come with gathering data through books and their teachers such as patience and discipline.

• Lack of social interaction

Interacting through screens isn’t the same as physical interaction. Additionally, when children are always on their devices, they are missing out on physical activities and socialization with their peers. As a result, they may be apprehensive in making connections outside of their mobile devices and have trouble making friends or interacting with other people.

• Stays indoors all the time

Staying indoors all the time may not sound as bad now considering the pandemic. However, it also has its downside. As mentioned above, children will tend to stay indoors with their devices instead of making friends or socializing. They are not only hindering the development of their social skills but also physical activities that will help keep them healthy and active.

• Too much importance of social media

Even adults are guilty of this and they have more control over their emotions and mentality, how much more destructive can this be for children? Since social media apps are also readily available, many children even those in primary schools can get into social media now. And considering the amount of exposure they have inside the social media world, they will put too much importance on this rather than real-life achievements, even going as far as thinking that Facebook or Instagram likes are more important than them getting good grades and excelling in sports. Additionally, some children can also become victims of cyberbullying or cyber peer pressure when they are left unattended with their mobile devices and given unlimited screen time.

What can parents do?

If you’re a parent and want to prevent these from happening to your child or want to help your child reduce his/her screen time, here are some of our tips for you.

1. Be an example

Children follow what the adults do. Most children learn by imitation so children who spend too much time on their devices most likely also have parents who do the same. Understandably, parents may need to use their devices for work or business. However, they should also show their children the proper time to use their devices and when to put them aside to spend time on other productive things such as hobbies or simply bonding with the family.

Physical interaction is an important factor for the child’s social and conversational development. It teaches them things they can’t learn through AI from apps such as reacting to body language or non-verbal communication techniques and interpretation. As home tuition, we believe that conversing with the child will also help them understand social rules and responding politely as well as habits that make them a better person socially.

2. Schedule for a specific purpose

These gadgets and apps aren’t necessarily all evil and hinder the child’s progress. There are even some apps and gadgets that may teach the child better since their attention can be withheld longer. However, this doesn’t change that parents should still be concerned with their children getting addicted to their devices. To ensure this, make a schedule for their gadget time.

There are many benefits to scheduling a time for them to use their devices. They will have a purpose in using their devices rather than just for passing or wasting time. They will also know how to maximize the use of it. Additionally, when this becomes a routine, children wouldn’t have to throw tantrums when their devices are taken away from them when the time is up because they already know the schedule. They can still have their screen time but they wouldn’t be glued to it.

It is also suggested that infants from 0-2 years old shouldn’t be exposed to gadgets such as mobile devices. By reaching 3-5 years old, they can be exposed for only an hour and increased by another hour when they turn six. There are still other activities that can keep the child preoccupied rather than just giving them a gadget so they wouldn’t fuss.

3. Introduce offline activities

The fun shouldn’t only be connected through the Internet or their mobile devices. Children can also have fun outside of the online world. In relation to the previous tip, when their devices are scheduled, there will be a time for the children to feel bored. Let them experience this boredom.

If children are always given something to occupy them, they may be at risk of over-stimulation and wouldn’t cope well with a down period. This can also be one of the causes why they can’t focus in class when they are listening to lectures and discussions. Downtime isn’t necessarily negative, too. Parents can introduce offline activities to help children cope during this time such as board games, Lego, or puzzles. Additionally, parents and children can also play games indoors such as indoor badminton or table tennis that can help children get their minds off their devices.

Conclusion

Technology is now part of our everyday lives and sooner when the children start to get older, they will become exposed more and more to it. For children below 6 years old, it’s important for parents to properly regulate their screen time and help them focus their development without relying too much on technology. When the child grows older, it also helps when parents teach them how to regulate their screen time by themselves. This will also help them exercise self-restraint.

It is not all that bad and some experts contradict arguments of the disadvantage of too much exposure saying this can help in education and development. However, there are still some factors in education that cannot be replicated by applications or devices. As such, too much of something is also destructive and the same can be said with relying too much on gadgets and too much screen time.

Carelle

Carelle

Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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