When our kids are glued to the screen all the time it can be difficult to pry them away. But here’s a pretty good way you can cut their screen time by at least half.
Every parent’s arch nemesis: our kids’ smartphones.
Parents, can you remember the time before smartphones invaded our little ones’ lives? Perhaps it was the time when they were still in nappies, or just before they started primary school. Whenever it was, it’s a time gone by. Nowadays, it’s more common to see our children hypnotised by their little palm-sized devices and spending endless hours on screen time.
Screen time for kids elicits the same emotions we mothers get when we manage to get a night of uninterrupted sleep – pure bliss. In fact, studies have shown that screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. So when we interrupt our little one’s YouTube binge, games, or TikTok videos, they get real mad. Cue tantrums, cue shouting, cue tears (from both your child and you).
Beating the screen.
We’re living in a media-centred world. While we can’t stop our children from using smartphones entirely, we can however try to curb their screen time. Here’s how you can effectively halve your child’s screen time, starting from today:
1. Start with the end in mind
The moment you notice your little one pick up his/her smartphone, ask him/her what they intend to do with it. The reason could be as innocent as wanting to catch up on the latest episode of Paw Patrol, or to take a break from their school work – these are acceptable reasons. After all, who doesn’t like to catch the latest episodes of their favourite shows, or unwind after a long day?
Ask your child how long he/she hopes to spend on the screen and negotiate from there. Screen time for kids should follow the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO):
- 0-2 year olds: no screen time at all
- 2-5 year olds: 1 hour of screen time a day
- 5 and above: A little more screen time can be introduced, but moderately. No more than a few hours of screen time a day.
2. Discuss consequences, establish incentives.
Setting up boundaries and ground rules are also a necessary step in limiting your child’s screen time. On the flip side, it’s equally important to let your child know the reward of following the rules diligently. For instance, if your child keeps to his/her promise of only 30 minutes of screen time, reward them with 30 minutes of playground time too! Or, you could reward them with their favourite dish for dinner.
It’s a more carrot and less stick approach to limiting your kids’ screen time, but such positive reinforcement has been proven to inspire continuous good behaviour in the future – and hopefully less screen time!
3. Install an app to limit screen time
Sometimes the best way to combat screen time, is to invade the screen itself. Parental control apps like plano help to limit your kid’s screen time. Plano reminds your child to take an eye break every 30 minutes of screen time. If your child follows these eye break reminders diligently, he/she earns points! These points can be used in the plano Shop to request for items and activities that your little one can enjoy!
The app also allows you as a parent to schedule appropriate device times – for instance, if your child has homework to complete, you can schedule a specific hour where your child will not be able to use his/her phone at all.
You can’t stop time, but you can stop screen time.
Times are changing and the uptake of smart devices among our youths have increased tenfold. Smart devices aren’t inherently bad, however it’s the relationship our children form with them that we need to take note of. Screen time is indeed one of the biggest thieves of our children’s time and health, but no screen can replace the love and care we have for our kids. So let’s start quashing screen time today, and help our kids develop a healthy relationship with their devices.