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7 ways Parents can Manage their Children's Screen Time: iPad Kids


Managing children's screen time
Toddlers Playing With Ipad

It doesn't come as a surprise to people when they see babies who barely speak pressing their faces against an Ipad for hours on end. Because the use of technology has become so mainstream and efficient, we apply it to every part of our lives when possible. The amount of time we ourselves spend on devices, and allow our children to spend, has become difficult to control.


According to a survey, kids aged from 5 to 15 years own their own i-pads and smartphones at a 49% ratio in the UK by 2019. Parents should be the ones stepping forward to set healthy device usage for their children. However, managing your child's screen time can be difficult. Let's look at some essential things to consider:



Why It Is Harmful?


Ever heard of 'too much of a good thing'? Although technology benefits us in numerous ways, too much screen time can harm our bodies both physically and psychologically.


According to Health Matters,

Data from a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning.'

This means that spending hours glued to a screen can damage a child's linguistic and critical thinking skills, as well as reasoning. This will further damage a child's learning abilities.


The idea that we should completely get rid of technology is unrealistic. Technology has a wide reach and usage. It also has its own benefits. However, excessive screen time will lead to eye strain, obesity, and lower cognitive development and ability. Limiting its use can help ensure its benefits aren’t abused to the point where it becomes harmful.

Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your child's screen time.



Understanding Why Screen Time is Our Happy Pill


Have you ever had a list of tasks to complete, but all you feel like doing is scrolling on your phone? When we use devices, our brain releases dopamine, something known as a 'happy drug'. Just like drugs, the abuse of them will lead to addiction and lead us to develop the need for instant gratification all the time. This makes it difficult to complete tasks that begin to pile up.


Many people assume this is because of laziness, but surprisingly, this happens because of exhaustion.

When we work until burnout, our body becomes too tired to do anything, and we find it easier to distract ourselves, which can make us feel overwhelmed. When we do have free time, it feels easier to put on a t.v show instead of reading or doing other activities. This leads to excessive screen time.


When this gets out of hand, it can prevent us from being productive and keeping a healthy lifestyle. Social media and the labyrinth of the internet can make us lose focus and forget reality. It’s designed to addict, and we become dependent on it without realizing it.


Take a few steps back and take care of yourself and your children. More importantly, work towards helping your child manage their stress so that exhaustion doesn't influence their digital habits, as well as your own.



How Much Screen Time?


How much screen time should be permitted for my kids? The most popular opinion for screen time for young kids is two hours⁠—and even that is risky. For school-aged children, four hours are recommended. It eventually comes down to your family and your lifestyle.


For instance, some children might need to use a screen more if they go to school online or if they take extra classes. Limit screen time as much as possible where you have control of it, and for toddlers, try excluding it altogether.


How can Parents Manage their Children's Screen Use?


As a parent, it's your duty to manage your children's screen time by restraining them from several activities and setting boundaries for them. But you must take care not to get your relationship messed up with them just because of hard limits.


So let's see, how you can manage both at a time: your relationship with your child and the screen time. Here are a few points to consider:


Manage Children Screen Time Parents Guide
Infographic: Manage Children's Screen Time

Explain Its Harms To Them


The best way to make sure your child doesn't abuse the use of their device is to explain to them why It is harmful. If you limit their time without giving them a reason, the only change you may notice is slamming doors. Together you can create a routine that they are ready to abide by and willing to commit to.


Phone In Front Of Laptop
Phone In Front Of Laptop

Put a Balance for your Kids


Policing how much screen time your child gets in other parts of their life, such as school, is near impossible. The older children get, the more screen time they will use. Assignments and projects often have to be done online. Your efforts may be in vain if you try to control all aspects of what they do on their devices.


Try to balance their free time with their work time. This can be done by alternating activities. For instance, if your child does their homework, then plays video games, chats with friends, and then watches a show before bed, they will have probably exceeded their screen time limit. Instead of your child playing video games, watching a show, chatting with friends, and catching up on social media all in one day, ask them to do only a few things a day at a time. Maybe catch up on social media for a while and play video games. Then the next day they can watch their show.


Similarly, if your child plays Minecraft for two hours every day, and they have a four-hour tournament coming up that they have to practice for. Give them the option of reducing their screen time to one hour a day throughout the week so that they can practice. Ideally, this will minimize the harm of staring at the screen all the time.


As controlling as it sounds, it will help them limit their screen time per day. Another thing to try is to keep other activities off the screen. Even though ebooks are easier, if they already spend too much time on the screen, it may be better to switch to a hard copy.



Encourage your Kids to Take Breaks


Even if your child has to sit at the computer for hours during a class or an assignment, encourage them to take breaks. Some breaks can be walking around the house for a while, and others can just be looking away from the screen, even if it is only for twenty seconds. This will help limit eye strain.



Don't Shush Your Kids


Parents often end up giving their children, especially toddlers, a device to keep them preoccupied while they eat or do other things to stop them from being extra fussy. As stressful as it may be, don't always give in to this. Starting this habit early will make it a lot harder for you to control later on.


Not only will your child get used to getting whatever they want, but It will also affect their growth and development. Try to get them to do other tasks like play with a ball or color and doodle. Whatever is possible, anything is better than them having their face pressed against a screen.



Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself


Although it is important to not silence your child with a device when you are busy, don't be too hard on yourself if you break this rule. Often strangers judge parents for not raising their children 'properly', but realistically, it isn't easy being a parent. There will be times when you will need to keep your child distracted so you can finish your work. This doesn't make you a bad parent or your child an 'Ipad Kid'.


First, make sure that you've tried everything else before you hand them a device. If toys and other activities aren't working, then it's okay to give in once in a while as long as it doesn't become a habit. Just make sure that your child isn't already getting unhealthy screen time so that it doesn't harm your child's health.



To Reward Or Not To Reward


There's a difference of opinion when it comes to using screen time as a reward. Some parents punish children by not giving them electronics, and others reward good behavior with them. Even if you don't punish your child with confiscated devices, don't encourage them with digital rewards either.


This will develop a mindset of always getting what they want and doing good only for the reward. This can be applied to all types of rewards and encouragement. It's best to reward them with other things and appreciate them. Rewarding with extra screen time will harm your child's health. Encourage them to take care of themselves and reward them with things that will make them feel good, but won't lead to an addiction.



Monkey See Monkey Do


Keep in mind that your children will imitate what you do. They won't listen to you if you have unhealthy screen habits. Accepting you make mistakes as a parent is hard, but to be a good role model, you have to take the first step. Use your child as motivation and take those baby steps together and get rid of bad habits like electronics during dinner.


Child Playing in a Field
Child Playing in a Field

Other Activities


When you need to get rid of a problem, you have to replace it with something better. Otherwise, you'll fall right back into it. Introduce other activities such as sports, baking, art, reading, or learning new skills. Make them fall into the activities that they can do at home.


Helping your child focus on other things and find something they enjoy can encourage them to be creative and think critically. These activities can be with you, friends, or by themselves. Even just having them help around the house (much to their dismay) can be a way to limit screen time.




Takeaway


Completely getting rid of technology is unrealistic, but limiting it can help ensure your child doesn't damage their eyes and health. You can help your child manage their screen time by discussing its harmful effects and working together towards having a healthy and balanced lifestyle. While doing this, keep in mind that there will be ups and downs, which is alright.

If you help your child manage stress and replace the time they spend on devices with something better, you can help them use technology in a beneficial and healthy manner.



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