Nowadays, kids are all about the screens and we’ve probably bribed them with it one too many times.
The new 21st-Century Candy
There’s no official statistic, but it’s largely possible that 90% of us parents have bribed our kids with screen time at least once in our lives. Be it to stop them from throwing a tantrum, or to get them to finish their vegetables, the screen has probably been used as our biggest bargaining chip.
It’s not inherently wrong to afford our children a dose of screen time or two – the screens are there to entertain and help us anyway! However, using the screens as a pacifier for your little one is by no means a viable long term solution. Consistently doling out screen time in a bid to calm their tantrums or to negotiate an earlier bed time can spell detrimental effects in the long run. Device over-dependency, screen addiction, even myopia are just some of the many consequences when your child is handed the screen one too many times.
Reigning back the screens
While there’s no turning back the clock, there are a few steps you can take to undo your screen time bribery and prevent long term consequences.
1. The art of substitution
Sure, the screens top the list of the most coveted items on our kids’ wish list. But, there are many other things that you can swap the screens out for. Instead of telling him/her that she’ll get an extra half hour of screen time the next day if he/she sleeps early, tell him/her that you’ll make his/her favourite breakfast in the morning the next day (cinnamon toast with strawberries, maybe?).
Or, if your child refuses to eat his/her vegetables, instead of handing him/her the screen as a bribe, you could choose not to give your little one dessert if he/she doesn’t finish his/her vegetables. There are a ton of substitutes for screen time out there – you just have to get creative!
2. More outdoor time
Going outdoors has been proven to help improve one’s eye sight and protect your eyes from myopia. So the next time your little one starts throwing a tantrum, instead of handing them the screen, you could suggest that if he/she stops crying, you’ll bring him/her out for some ultimate fun in the sun at the nearby playground – and which kid doesn’t like running amuck at the playground? It’ll be a great way to keep your child active, and keep them away from the screens.
3. Use a parental control app to assist you!
For the times when you end up caving in to your child’s request for the screen (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), you can use parental control apps like plano to help manage your child’s screen time.
The plano app will alert your child every 30 minutes to take an eye break, and it also allows you as the parent to schedule specific times when your child is allowed to use his/her phone. You get full control of when your little one is and isn’t allowed screen time so once the time is up, it’s time for them to put away those screens.
And if things get out of hand, you can use the remote locking function too to easily lock your child’s phone from your own device*.
Screen time is great, but in moderation
The screens are here to stay and our children are growing up alongside of them, it’s important to emphasize and exercise moderation. It’s an easy solution to reach for the screen and hand it to our little ones to negotiate with them. However, it’s up to us to also teach our children the right habits and prevent issues like device dependency, screen addiction, and even myopia. So the next time you’re tempted to reach for the screen as a bargaining chip, remember the 3 steps above to limit your child’s screen time.
*This is subject to your device’s technical capabilities.