COVID-19, Home Confinement, Social Distancing, no play, no physical activities, Lockdown blues – The only option left for all of us to remain busy is screen time.
What is Screen Time?
Screen time is defined as any activity done in front of a screen – exploring mobile phone, browsing the internet, watching TV, working on mobile or laptop, working on a computer or playing video games and watching cartoons on mobile, TV or computers.
Amidst COVID-19 and Lockdown – Screen time has become synonymous with Online classes – especially for children – more aptly – Time spent on laptops or phones for educational purpose.
Being a parent just keep in mind that excessive time spent on screens – mobile phones, gadgets and laptops by your children can cause
Neck and shoulder pain
Dry eyes / Irritated Eyes / Eyestrain
Shorter duration of sleep
Violent and poor behaviour
Loss of interest in play and physical activities
Reduced Attention Span
The above problems have become a routine finding in children who spend at least two to three hours of screen time. This is a usual scenario prior to COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Now, during lockdowns – just imagine what could be the amount of time our children are spending on screens. It goes exaggeratedly up to 8 to 10 hours. Where are we moving – has anyone paid heed to this pathetic situation we are living in.
All the above symptoms can drastically affect a child’s learning abilities, behaviour, social skills, cognitive and mental abilities, and physical development. In addition, they even lower academic performance of your child.
Screen Time Tips
Parents should themselves set a good example by reducing their own screen time. It can be challenging for both parents and children though, you being a parent should follow it diligently.
Set rules, limits, schedules and then talk to your child about screen timings
To make your child’s screen time more productive:
Set screen time as per the parameters discussed in the preceding paragraphs.
Be with your child during screen time and actively involve with them by interacting.
Allow your child to watch age-appropriate Video or TV show or educational video on mobile.
Play an educational game together talking to them about something you see together.
Talk to a child psychologist and take guidance from them regarding educational games, online video games and usage of apps for your children. Though many companies claim their games as educational, not all of them are. Talk to teachers and educators and take their advice too.
You must schedule lots of playtimes or non-screen time in your child’s day. Let it be unstructured as it is good for developing creativity in young children. This type of approach will give an opportunity to children to shift their focus away from screens every day.
Don’t and never allow children to see their screens during meals and bedtime. Keep them away from screens during these times and take time to interact with them.
How much is too much?
Babies and Toddlers younger than 18 months – No screen time at all
18 to 24 months – Some quality screen time with parents
2 to 3 years old kids – 1 hour per day or less
Children above 3 years and older – two to three hours
The biggest cause for concern, for now, is the amount of average screen time spend by babies, toddlers, and children – which is up to 6 to 7 hours.
This is quite an alarming scenario! Parents must talk to their teachers and specialist doctors to fix this issue.