Screen Time for kids: How much is too much?

In a world full of gadgets and technology, adults and kids’ access to electronic devices like tablets, mobiles and laptops has dramatically increased. Screens are widely used for education, communication and entertainment. Thus, making it difficult for parents to determine the right amount of screen time for their children and themselves.

However, the kids’ screen time has become a bigger concern these days. This is a rising concern not only amongst parents, but also amongst the health practitioners and governments around the world that are advising parents to limit kids’ screen time. Various studies suggest that screens may have critical effects on a child’s development when they begin using electronic devices such as mobiles and tabs at an early age. According to WHO, screen time for children between the age group of  2-5 years should be no more than one hour per day and kids below two years of age should not be exposed to it at all.

There is a lot of advice and emerging research around screen time that suggests children who spend long periods in front of the screen are more likely to have poor physical, social and intellectual development. This is enough for any parent to be concerned. However, considering the fact that these days devices like mobiles and tabs are part of their kids’ lives, outright denying access may not be an option anymore.

Thankfully, there are sensible and evidence-based ways to limit screen time among kids. Here’s how to go about it:

Limit Screen Time

Set rules. There is no one better than a parent to decide what’s good and bad for your children. Limit the screen time for your kids to not more than 30 minutes. However, as you take this decision, make sure to involve your children in the conversation so that they understand why you’re setting screen limits for them.

Monitor Screen Time

There is no denying the fact that the internet can be one source of learning and increasing awareness for children. It helps develop their skills and interests. However, it is important to monitor what they are accessing, making sure that the screens are used optimally and not for watching inappropriate content.

Introduce Active Play 

Setting time limits and alarms for restricting screen time may not be enough. As parents, you must foster a culture where physical fitness and health take priority over everything else. Introduce growth-promoting activities at home, take kids to play outdoors, participate with them in creative crafts and activities, and inculcate the habit of reading books.

Encourage Family Time 

Start with having a ‘NO SCREEN’ policy during meal times. Try to engage in non-screen-based activities and entertainment whenever possible. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved in using screens together. A specified amount of screen time can be useful and enjoyable for families travelling, on sick days or on weekends.

Lead by Example

This should take precedence over everything else. Kids learn from their parents. The biggest mistake parents can commit is to tell their kids that screens are harmful and then check their phone.Be a role model for your kids.  Use your devices only when necessary and do indulge in other activities that you enjoy. Hence, showing your kids that electronic devices like mobiles, tabs and laptops are not the only way for education and entertainment. There are various other activities that they should indulge in.

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