We are in a new era, where sticking to our daily routine without a gadget has become a challenge. The advancement of technology is clearly a boon, it saves our human work and helps us with exploring the world in the palms but on the other hand, we can’t deny that it eats up our time and health. This “we” has included currently our “kids” too, with the current situations where they are forced to stay indoors and learn digitally.
Being parents, taking care of our children’s health is our priority. Taking care of their health not only includes giving healthy food but also nurturing them with good and healthy habits. One such important healthy habit is having less gadget time. In this digital world, making the kids understand and practice it is not an easy task. But it can still be achieved with constant supervision and the right interesting alternatives.
How Gadgets land into a child’s hand
Screen times crawl into a child’s life for many reasons. Understanding those reasons help us better handling the screen time. Every parent wants to raise the child healthy and hale but when it comes to practicality, with the smaller homes, less help, and fleeting mechanical lifestyles it gets unavoidable for the parents to resort to screens to engage the children. A device finds its way to the hands of a child because,
- Children find it entertaining and appealing
- Parents don’t have enough help to entertain the kids.
- Peer pressure for both parents and kids to always prove themselves best.
- Becomes unavoidable with social factors like mandatory online learning
- Easier source of knowledge and learning
- An easy way out for some parents with some tasks like feeding, calming, and engaging kids
- Sometimes it is misinterpreted as “pride” and “status” symbol.
Though handling all the reasons and avoiding the screen time depends upon the parents, screen time because of some reasons can always be avoided.
A note before you start
Remember the Goliath and David story from childhood? We are the Davids fighting one giant now for our kids. Bringing in less screen time in kids is arguably an achievement and necessity that we can boost off sadly not on our CVs of course. We can imagine you pulling your hair strands clueless while talking about it, but understand we have been there too. It is not a secret anymore that the prolonged usage of electronic gadgets makes the kids addicted to it. We must understand that the addiction hinders their sleep and relaxation to the brain and body. It causes many physical and mind issues like redness in the eyes, amblyopia, myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, indigestion, hormonal imbalance, depression, low social skills, and the list is endless. So, we must wake up and help future generations to release themselves from the grip of screens and gadgets.
It needs time and patience to adopt every new habit. The first step is to break the comfort of the existing lifestyle with these devices. As adults, we find it difficult to accept things easily, even while we realize it is a good habit, right? So we must take it slow on our kids. It is fruitful only when they understand the “why” rather than just having to accept the “No”. Stubbornness is not always a bad thing, sometimes it keeps the perseverance alive and helps them achieve in life. But it should be coupled with better reasoning and goodness for it to be positive. This can be done by understanding the interests of your child. Find the activity which makes them happy, thought-provoking, and encourage them to do it. This possibly would help you succeed in your attempts of reducing the screen time of your kids.
If your kid is already glued to the screens, the initially small result at a time is good. Reducing 1-2 hours gradually by involving the kids in any one of the following activities will be effective. Buckle up and prepare yourselves to be responsible, for it might involve waking up early and completing the routine faster to engage ourselves sometimes with our children.
Alternatives that can replace screen time
Fun 1: To take over the screen time the replacement has to be as interesting and entertaining as the screens. Memory Games are the best fun pass time that are not only lively but also stimulates the brain and helps them with the mind building. Cards, stones, pulses and etc… are the best for pre-schoolers and school goers to play the memory games. Stones and pulses can be grouped by colour, size, shape, and names. Cards of flowers, vehicles, occupation, leaders, appliances, and etc…can be used. It is important to supervise them so they don’t choke themselves with it.
You can play the memory game with pre-teen and teens where you can say a list of things without them noting and they can write it down from their memory. The game can be toughened by age. Even a picture or room with things can also be used for a memory game. This improves concentration and makes them learn a lot of words and objects.
Fun 2: Miming is a great way to enjoy yourself with the family. Miming is an art and many successful actors have made it to the screens from the mime and mimicry theatres.
Making the kid act and explain a word or sentence or a scene written in a lucky bowl is fun. This helps with their imagination and body language. It makes them recall and correlate it to action. We all would have played dumb charades in our school time and we can teach them. My son enjoyed enacting his rhymes and we all learned a lot with just the rhymes. It also helped me to know my son better.
Fun 3: A very old yet interesting play is Hide and Seek. Counting the numbers and searching for the hiding person is fun irrespective of any age. You should see the joy and excitement on their faces when they say “Am done with Ten and here I come”. The giggles are endless. A family that plays hide and seeks together stays together. It can entertain the family or friends or siblings clearly for 30 minutes or more. Hiding in different rooms will let them understand and make them comfortable in the place they live in. It will let them explore places in their home that always passed away in their blindsight. It improves alertness, listening skill, and mental stability.
Fun 4: Secret / Treasure Hunt doesn’t need any explanation. It turns us into explorers and seekers. Searching and finding a gift or any object hidden in a place with the help of clues by hunting one after the other clue is an amusing activity. We don’t necessarily need a park for playing it. We can hunt in our living room or terrace. This helps in correlating the knowns with the unknowns. The surprising part attached to it fuels up the fun in the game. It also builds patience in reading the hints to get better results.
Fun 5: Another amusing alternative would be Singing and dancing to the favorite music. Let the song be played and your kids can sing and dance for it. You can join them if you want fun and de-stress therapy at home. As a family fun, it can entertain you even an hour and you will never know how the time flew away and your kids will enjoy it a lot. It will encourage toddlers to speak early. Yes, I hear you! Be mindful of the songs you play and sing, for they will be learning those words. Never bother about how good you are in singing and dancing. Our little audience is not only going to learn the steps but the comfort we own over our body and skill.
Fun 6: Maintaining the body fit is a game that plays us as an adult. Physical Fitness Exercises and Yoga are the win-win activity that every parent should do. Making ourselves fit is good for us and also it is best to be an example to our children. Involve them in doing simple exercises and then step by step teach them simple asana like “Surya Namaskar” which is a complete energy booster for the body and mind. Include simple breathing techniques which are need of the hour. Eyes are an important part of the body that need care but are often forgotten while coming to fitness. Eye exercises like rotating the eyeballs, far and near eye exercises should be done to train the eyes. It helps with relaxing the eye nerves. This will cover easily 30 minutes to 1hour and keep them healthy and fit.
Skills as Fun
Fun 7: An amazing way to pour the scattering of light effect in our kids is Colouring. Without colours, our world is never complete. Any colouring activity with chalk, pencils, pens, crayons, sketches, watercolors, paints, pastels, powders, etc… will keep them occupied and it may turn into their interest and they may become their skill and occupation. Had Ravi Varma been playing games on mobile, we would have never had those beautiful portraits that the world is in love with. Colours don’t just involve hands but it enriches the mind and improves the imagination and creativity in them.
Fun 8: Last but not the least, we must teach them Life skills. By introducing life skills, we are making our champs ready for the future. This will make them responsible for their job and make them show respect and kindness towards all. This teaches them to show equality towards mankind in gender, race, wealth, health and etc…
Few important life skills are,
- De-cluttering and Cleaning the cupboards or rooms or garden
- Arranging the vessels
- Washing, drying, and folding the laundry
- Sweeping and Moping the floor
- Gardening and etc…
Finally, we will make them realise the worth and necessity of the home and our effort as parents in making the Home, the Happiest Place.
Fellow parents, hope these tips will help you to reduce the screen time of your kid and you!!! It not just deals the screen time but also helps us with,
- Taking care of our physical fitness
- Managing our stress and boredom
- Tackling home needs and chores.
We know the wise saying “Where there is a Will, there is a way”. Let us make our “Will” strong which makes their “Way” healthy. Let us rock together!!!