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Screen Rules At Home For my Child and Me

When we were children, our parents just had the one screen to worry about, if even that! The television screen, a modest square box, was all the distraction I had all through my childhood. Imagine the plight of this generation’s parents! There’s the television, of course, which has proven to be the least of our concerns. We have now moved on to further worries of laptops, smartphones, tablets..!! And we are supposed to keep our kids away from all of that..? Knowing kids, a herculean task it is!! Yet, it must be done.

Kids of today are practically born digital!! They know just what the TV is for, they know how to swipe a phone. They know how to dial a number or bring up their favorite videos. And this, I am talking of the little ones. Go one step higher and they are probably way above your digital capabilities! By the time they reach high school, they are demanding a smart phone. The internet becomes their buddy. After-school group chats are the in-thing. And by the time they are out of school, they are already making promises keeping up on the social media!

One mustn’t expect children of this age to be as technologically illiterate as we were when small. This is the age of digitization. This is the post internet-boom era! These have brought about significant changes in the way we live! And where the parents have been digitized, can the children be far behind? Where parents are suffering from the ill effects of screen time already, will the children be far behind? There are just SO many side effects of all these technologies and gadgets we use. Obesity, eye problems, problems in the wrist and fingers, exposure to radiation are just a few. For children, the negatives go beyond the physical. Over use of technology can have serious mental and social repercussions on them . There’s so much information out there, you never know when your child stumbles on something not meant for their age. With so many search engines finding results in milli seconds, kids no longer want to exercise their minds finding answers, stunting their originality. With time, children learn that it is okay to be socially disconnected while being lost in the online world, just as their parents do. Can we blame the children then?

In their formative years, kids learn the most from their parents. What they see around them, they absorb. Their habits of later years begin with our habits at home. So when they see their parents hooked on to their phones at all times of the day, busily checking mails and messages and answering calls, why would they want to do any different? As parents, we have a huge responsibility. The responsibility to step back when we want our children to step back too.

Here are some simple ways to make sure your child doesn’t take an over dose of screen time!
Set Rules on Screen Time! The first important step you need to take is set strict rules on the number of hours of screen time allowed in the house. And that should include you. Keep track of when your child begins watching TV or accessing the internet and make sure you make them stop when time’s up. And more importantly, make sure you don’t break the rules in front of your children at any cost!

Meal Times Strict No-No! Phones must be a strict no –no at meal times. This time must be enjoyed as a family event where stories of the day are exchanged, advices are given and taken. Small habits such as these can shape a child’s understanding of the importance of family bonding.

Give them the attention they deserve!! Little children often feel sidelined and unimportant when their parents unknowingly ignore them while taking that really important call or quickly responding to a message. Understand that they notice and get disappointed. These very children then become rebellious teenagers who refuse to follow your screen time rules! Remember, you have a big role to play in who your child becomes. And often these tiny habits of yours can have huge impacts on your children’s emotions.

Engage with your children! Children often have a lot of share when they are small. As they grow, teenagers tend to become quiet, often sharing with their friends more than family. Setting family traditions right at an early age can help parents overcome this. Set aside a few hours every day for family time when you have a little family game or probably make family dinner together. With such awesome parents around, kids wouldn’t even want extra screen time!

Monitor your child’s screen time! There are loads of online worlds available just a click away! While some of them can help in your child’s mental development immensely, some others can have a significant negative influence on them mentally and emotionally. Keep an eye on what your child does online or even watches on TV. Use the many apps available today that give you parental control on which sites they can access, how much time the device can be on for! Use technology to beat technology! While spying on them isn’t the idea, maintain friendly relations with them so they see your concern behind your actions.

Encourage Social Engagement! Make your child see beyond the online world. Children today are content keeping in touch over social media. Even when they meet, all of them get busy with phones in hands. The little ones as well prefer video and phone games to physical activities. Encourage them to meet, interact, talk, play. Explain how it is important to stay physically fit and that nothing can replace a conversation in fresh air!

Talk to them! Teenagers can be difficult to enforce rules on, especially if they see their peers having no screen rules at home! Sit down and explain why the rules are in place and make them see that you follow them too. Sometimes, you would be surprised how readily they understand your concern.

Start Early! Try to start with these habits when your children are still small. That way, they are used to finding things other than phones and laptops to keep themselves busy and do not resent the sudden changes in their interests.

All parents dream of their children becoming ideal humans, caring, giving, intelligent, with no trace of bad habits. But what very few parents keep in mind is that what your child becomes is who you are in their formative years. They learn so much from you. Remember, you are their ideal human for many many years. Your habits can have much more significant impact on them than any other external factor. So take the reins in your hands now! Be the person you want your child to be!