Common topic of discussion among mommies sitting together in a club or park is- how much time is enough for watching an ipad or television or playing video games? Is it good or bad if my child loves the time spent on these gadgets? How to refrain my child from using these gadgets?
If you observe these mommies and listen keenly to their conversation you will know that they can be easily divided into two groups. First group is very happy that their children are technology freaks and can do those things which mommies don’t even know. You can sense the pride mommies take in flaunting this extra talent their children possesses. The second group complains about how they are unable to refrain their children from spending time on gadgets and how harmful there usage is. Huh! everyone knows about the bad radiation effect mobile phones cause.
This compelled me to think that which category do I fall in? Am I for or against the use of these gadgets by children? Here are my thoughts-
An article which has been doing rounds on social media recently about how Steve Jobs (Apple’s leader) limited his children’s screen time, and a surprising number of other technology executives do too. An article in New York Times tells that Steve Jobs was founder of Apple because he was not just hooked to gadgets and had better things to do in life. When a child sits at one place and is devoid of physical activity then he is prone to obesity. Excessive use of technology results in sleep, attention and behavioural disorders, gadget freak children display more aggressive and abrupt behavior than others. It also obstructs their thinking and imagination skills. Time spent on screen can also expose them to unwanted age inappropriate stuff. Another example of a dear friend who feels her 10 year old is held hostage by a gadget. The child doesn’t respond to any conversation as his eyes are glued to the I pad. Mother is rattled on how to control the child. She thinks that his son keeps moving his fingers even while asleep.
Despite the ill effects, it is impossible to tech proof the life of your kid. But we can smartly reduce the harmful effects it causes and use gadgets prudently.
So here goes the Mantra to manage screen time-
Be firm and set reasonable limits– As goes the saying prevention is better than cure so the sooner you start the better it is. Keep the rules straight since childhood; do not confuse your children with your changing stances. It’s not a great idea to try to control things overnight when examinations or some crucial days are nearing.
Set a precedent – Be ready to walk the talk. Follow the screen time rules yourself. Children are smart and they imbibe your behavior and actions just by observing
Spend time with kids- Be a good parent and go for nature walks, excursions, long drives in your free time. Be with your children in their growing years because that’s when they need you the most. It is not necessary to seek help through Google every time, encourage them to brainstorm before trying to Google. We have unconsciously become so dependent on search engines for all our queries that we have stopped thinking; thinking is an exercise for the brain
Share the repercussions of overusing gadgets and technology– Make children responsible for their own actions or inactions. Rather than instructing them share with them the adverse effects of it, it works wonders for me. I keep on humming this phrase- ‘’Science is a good servant but a bad master’’, whether children show it or not but it stays somewhere in their mind.
Keep the child busy in hobbies like playing guitar, reading, blogging-writing and sharing your thoughts with the world. Children are full of energy and sports help in channelizing their energy in a constructive manner. Indoor sports like board games develop concentration skills and logical abilities. Outdoor sports help in improving their gross motor skills and overall fitness of the body. They are hardly left with time to watch television etc.
Always keep a check on websites and content your child is watching- Install software to avoid misuse of online freedom. The online world has vast information which can prove either beneficial or detrimental to your child.
Invite real life friends at home to spend time at home– play a sport or simply watch a movie together. Make arrangements for their favorite snack- all this to some extent discourages the time spend on social media. Children who don’t get enough attention and love in real life look for virtual relationships and find satisfaction in them
There should be gadget free zones where you can talk with your family members rather than staying hooked to a gadget. Example could be –
- Talk about your day during meal time rather than watching TV
- While commuting in cars you can play games like reading number plates, counting a particular coloured object, finding a word etc to keep your child busy. Also you can carry a book of your child’s choice. Car time is sacred time for me when I enjoy the most with my children as I don’t have to worry about unfinished chores, cooking food, laundry etc.
- There should be no gadget in sleeping room.
Sometimes we want some space and time from our children and we use mobiles as distractions and tell ourselves that it is an effective learning tool for child. Well you may be right but one has to look at both pros and cons, If learning something is killing your child’s imagination then it should be a cause of worry. Avoid doing this by making a list of fun activities for your child. Suggest some constructive activities and paste that list in his room, whenever he is free you can give him a choice from that list.
(Whether you like, dislike, agree or disagree with views expressed here, please share your thoughts in the comment box below.)