How much screen time is Ok for a child? I am sure all of us mothers have the same question in our mind. This might have been answered by some “experts” around us (we all have such experts in our circle ;)). Some say 1 hr, some say 2 hours, some moms keep no tabs… In fact few of them would even categorize the screen time according to age, separate it for type of viewing – leisure or educational and so on…
During our time, television itself came too late into the market, even later in our homes and that too with limited programs. Our parents never had to limit our screen time or think what is appropriate for us to watch. But today, kids are spoiled for choice of cartoons, kid shows, movies etc. There is a competition among all the channels for maximum TRPs.
We all are fighting with the same doubt in our mind.
We wonder if we should or should not let them watch TV/ Phones/ Tabs or if we do, how long should it be. Thankfully it is easier to control what they see with the child locks etc, available with the various instruments, channels and apps. Still we wonder, what should they watch – cartoons, movies or other educational stuff. Obviously if the kids are left alone, they hardly watch any educational stuff.
What do we do?
I think as a mother we all need to learn and discover the interests of our kids and channelize the same.
- I believe that we need to involve kids into various activities at home. Make them independent – taking care of their room – toys, clothes etc. Make a schedule for them – it takes hardly 5-10 minutes of yours. Obviously we can’t be rigid with it for a child. But they should know once they have completed their chores and their homework, they are free to do what they want. This limits their screen time automatically.
- Push them out of the house in the evening. Encourage them to play outside with friends. If nothing else, take the bat and ball and go out. try to involve other kids of the neighborhood. Kids learn more than just sports or playing outside. An activity that interests the child, will automatically shift his/ her focus from the screen.
- You may consider an after school activity that they may join. (But don’t go over board with it). I think any one sports activity is a must for a child. Rest is up to the child’s interest.
- You may encourage Art also. Simple coloring or drawing also works. Sit and color with them if possible – just a page maybe. My son and I used to sit and color together – in the same booklet. He loved it.
- Make Books their best friends. My son and I have a ritual of reading before we go to sleep. I read a few pages of my novel and he reads his story book. We give this half an hour daily. Earlier I used to read him before sleep. But now, he is on his own. After switching off the lights, I vaguely ask him about the story he read. This tells me how he went about it.
- Ban the phone. Trust me, you don’t want to give it to your child. Just put your foot down. No means no. It would be painful for me in the beginning to say no – his little upset face was the last thing I would want to see (He was just 3). But today, at 7 he knows that phone is not allowed. In case he really wants to play a game, he seeks permission for the same.
I hope my suggestions will give the struggling mother some ideas about how to channelise their child’s interests. It is not that tough if we put our mind into it. Try it out and see for yourself.
In case you have some more ideas, please share it in the comments section below.