Excess of everything is bad, and so is screen time. But there are a lot of positive things you can gain out of healthy screen time, and so can your child.
If the child is supervised, given a limited time to use the screen and guided since the beginning, the screen time can be beneficial to the child.
According to Indian Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Pediatrics for children less than 2 years of age screen time should be zero, except the occasional video call with the family. Screens are addictive and when we start introducing screen to the child early, they get use to it, and find it difficult to avoid it. So, not introducing at a very young age is the key.
If right content is shown, and supervised, screen can be beneficial too.
1. Delay Giving Screen to the Child
The later you introduce the better it is.
Once the child is grown up a little the child will be able to understand why too much screen time is not advisable and what he or she should avoid watching (as a parent would be there to guide and supervise).
A child who is watching screen early and too much will have a lot of problems like speech delay, problem with fine and gross motor skills, difficulty concentrating, sleep deprivation, mental health issues, impaired vision etc.
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is seen more commonly in children who are more addicted to screen.
2. Engage them in content that is beneficial for them
There is so much content online that can help in gaining something, or is not violent, and the child can actually benefit from it. You need to search it and help your child engage with this content.
The screen time should be interactive, like games, which help in mind development for the children. If your child is watching the screen for say 15-20 minutes when you are busy doing something important or just taking a shower, it is okay, but make sure the child is watching something educational at that time rather than something making no sense at all.
If the parent can accompany the child while watching the screen, there is nothing like that. There are so many options available for a healthy screen time:
- 1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
- 2. Sesame Street
- 3. Super Why
- 4. Sid the Science Kid
- 5. Word Girl
- 6. Baby Bus
- 7. Cocomelon Nursery Rhymes
- 8. Dave and Eva Nursery Rhymes
- 9. TED Education
- 10. Dora and Friends: Into the City
- 11. Arthur
- 12. Number Blocks
- 13. Little Einstein
And many more..
Watch the show or play the game with your child for the first time and then they can continue on their own if you find it educating. There are a number of games which involves puzzles, numbers, coloring, drawing etc. which can find in the play store for your child.
3. Be there with them while they are using the screen
Do not let the child watch on their own for the first time at least. There are a number of violent and aggressive shows which your child might be watching if not supervised. Once you are aware the child is watching the right content, you can let them watch on their own. But remember to supervise in between. You can even block the content you find inappropriate for your child so that the child is not watching it again.
Watching on the big screen is a better option than watching on tabs or phones. You will be more aware what they are watching and also the screen is big, so the child will have less strain on the eyes. Follow the 20-20-20 rule.
4. Fix screen time rules
Rules for screen time should be fixed. If the rules are fixed the child is more comfortable following it, and abiding by it without any confusions.
- 1. There should be absolutely zero screen time during meals, homework, family time, outings etc.
- 2. There should be no screen time at least 1 hour before bed time.
- 3. Because of screen time physical activity should not be hampered.
- 4. Academics of the child should not be affected.
- 5. The child should be supervised while using the screen.
- 6. The child should be told to avoid any kind of violent or aggressive content, may it be videos, or games.
- 7. The young children should be restricted to use any kind of inappropriate website. The websites should be blocked.
- 8. During the screen time, try to show only educational videos to the child. There are plenty of series and websites which help kids to learn. These should be encouraged.
- 9. There should be a time when none of the family members use the digital devices and the time is used as bonding time with the family. Board games, cards, carom board, etc. can be played during this time.
5. No Screen time Before Bed
There should be absolutely no screen time before bed. The child should be having dinner, reading books, engaging with the family one hour before the bed time. This helps in having a sound and a peaceful sleep.
If you are concerned about the screen time of your child you can also contact pediatricians and they will help you and your child reduce it.
6. Lead by Example
Children do what they see. And if they see you are on the phone all the time, they will think it is the right thing to do as you are their role model.
Do not be in front of the screen all the time especially when you are spending time with your child. This will help in increasing the bonding with the child as well as indirectly explaining to the child that the screen is just a source of entertainment for a little time.
Prefer to do only important work using the screen. Avoid watching too much TV, or playing too many games especially when the child is around.
Take Away Message
Screen time if given according to the guidelines can be beneficial for the children provided the time is used to view educational videos, and logical games are played. The parent or the care giver is responsible for it. There should strictly be no screen time for kids less than 2 years of age except the occasional video calling with the friends and the family.
This blog provides general information about tips to give a healthy screen time to your children. The opinion and content on this blog is only for conversational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriate licensed medical physician or a health care provider.