‘E-Discipline’ May Be Feeding Your Child’s Screen Addiction


As our world gets digitalised, it is unsurprising that the way we discipline children has also taken on a digital form. It is however perhaps time to realise what this might inadvertently do to your child, especially when it comes to the arduous battle against their screen addictions

What exactly is e-discipline?

What do you do when your child refuses to do homework? Or when he/she achieves exemplary results in the latest tests? 

E-discipline is defined as systematic practices that use screen devices as discipline tools. Examples of e-discipline are when parents punish their children by restricting their use of digital devices or even when they reward their children’s good behavior by allowing them to spend more time behind their screens.

In other words, if you use screen time to punish and/or reward your kids, you are engaging in e-discipline.

So what if I e-discipline my child?

Using e-discipline on a child increases the odds of him/her exceeding the recommended amount of screen time. This by extension, increases the likelihood of him/her being addicted to screens, alongside other worrying health and developmental issues associated with screen addiction. 

Just as how punishing or rewarding behaviour with certain food may make that particular food more attractive to your child, e-discipline can cause screen time to be more desirable than it already is. 

But what else can I do?

The allure of screens, be it smartphones, tablets or TVs, is undeniable. They seem to magically tackle all of our child discipline issues. However, there are other methods we can adopt as parents to not only enforce discipline, but to encourage a healthy mind and body for our children. 

1.Reward with device-free activities

Did your children behave exceptionally well? Bring them to the bookstore to pick out their favourite books. Instead of encouraging good behaviour by giving additional screen time, positive reinforcements can also come in the form of outdoor play, or inviting their family and friends over for some quality relationship-building. Going outdoors, in particular, also has protective benefits against the onset of myopia among children. Use this opportunity to engage in device-free activities that can improve their creativity and socialisation skills in a fun and healthy way. 

2. Enact a time-out

When your child does not stop misbehaving despite multiple warnings, calling for a time-out is another effective way to discipline him/her.  Unlike punishing children by reducing screen time and evoking further tantrums, giving time-outs encourages them to calm down and reflect on their behaviour. Beyond helping you avoid using e-discipline on your children, time-outs promote emotional maturity and a deeper understanding as to why their behaviour was wrong, especially when given a chance to apologise afterwards.

3. Be firm with established screen times

Being firm with agreed screen time schedules can also encourage discipline without using digital devices themselves as disciplinary tools. For instance, granting children with an unnegotiable thirty minutes of device use after dinner daily not only dissuades them from trying to extend it, it also stops the whining at other times of the day because they know that the device can be used at that agreed timing. This should also be accompanied with prior communication of the rationale behind limiting screen time, so as to help children understand that such rules are made with good intentions. 

Don’t e-discipline, but discipline with smart parental control aides

This is when parental control applications, like the plano app, come in handy. The plano app features device-free scheduling, along with other useful tools to promote healthy device-use such as posture-monitoring and eye break reminders. 

As convenient as e-disciplining seemingly is, it is important to bear in mind the consequences of completely relying on e-disciplining techniques in our parenting journeys. Screen addiction is not easy to combat, and ultimately, as parents, it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent it at an early age!

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