It is 6:00 pm evening hours, and the living room floor surface is covered with an assortment of books, and toys. The remote of the LED has now been hidden under the clothes basket by a 3-year-old child. She has just started her school and right now sitting behind the study table nagging with her mother to read her beloved storybook.
By all accounts, don’t you think it appears to be a regular evening in a household? Maybe you are wondering how lucky the mother is, isn’t it? Actually, the child is busy in screen-free activities. Remarkably absent is the backdrop noise of our cartoon channels running in TV, or the tantalizing dingles of iPads along with other iGadgets. Once again you might be wondering – how it is possible?
It is possible, and the mother has been able to make her child’s life screen free.
Recent studies have shown that the screen time duration in children relates to reduced attention, little creativity, and obsession. At most, it is an absolute rise of the apprehension, depression and even suicide in a few cases.
Let’s have a look at some Statistics
As per research conducted on U.S. parents, the average child spends the largest share of its free time on screen-based activities. While looking at 2 to 10-year-olds, parents informed that their kids spend 18.6 hours on screen-based play in a standard week.
In the present scenario, children are more technically savvy as compared to adults. Mostly because of growing up in the online culture. Just to name a few examples – various social media websites, texting, are a daily way of life for every preteen and teen. Unfortunately, in addition to multiple benefits, there are numerous cons. Nowadays kids are too much involved in online screen activities, which ultimately puts them in a vulnerable position.
Research involving 445 children was executed by Kingmaker Consultancy in the year 2015. The research was done to study the screen time pattern among children in the age range of 0-6 years. The data obtained can be found as follows:
This research also suggested an average screen time of about 30 to 45 hours per week for upper primary students. This counts to between 4 to 6hrs daily.
How often you have heard of complains shared by parents about altering children’s screen habits. This further turns in to a big challenge for parents. I, at my Preschool, receive such requests multiple time to suggest something which can lessen the screen time for children.
Parents are upset about their children wasting too much time while performing useless activities on screens. They are searching for effective screen-free activities. There is a way to deal with such situations. I would like to share a few of the most vital screen free activity tips that help me in keeping my Day Care kids go screen free. In fact, they never demanded for screen time in my daycare. Because we keep them productively occupied.
As you try out some of these few tips, there is always a possibility where your kids might resist initially, or that you face difficulty in adapting to the changes yourself. But stick with the plan. Though not all tips will work, I am sure, you would be able to find the right one for your children.
Also Read: A to Z of Bonding with Your Child
Tip #1: Start the Day Screen-Free
It’s absolutely possible to start your day without getting involved in screen time. You will find that the day goes smoothly. Cutting down the TV, screen time allows you to grab an extra few minutes in the morning. This time can be utilized in enjoying the walk to the school or bus stop and having basic general knowledge on their way. Studies have shown that screen time is associated with attention problems in children. However, those kids who spend less screen free time always perform better in school and interact more with caring adults.
Tip #2: Ensure Screen-Free Meals
Children are distracted and do not eat very well if the TV is on during meals. Simply switch off the TV during the meals. You will see your kids remain less distracted and have a proper intake of food items. In fact, kids complete their meals properly along with more and good family conversation at the table. Not to forget, having screen-free family meals support healthy eating.
According to research, “TV & Video Consumer Trend Report 2011” from Ericsson Consumer Lab, more than 60% of consumers eat their meal while they are watching TV, on a weekly basis.
Tip #3: Explore the Outdoors as much as possible
A simple tip of just prioritizing outdoor time together can very well make life better for every member in the family especially the kids. Just remember the last time you went on the trip and decided to leave your gadgets at home. As a result, you and your children talked for hours—something you hadn’t done for a long time. Not only you and your kids enjoyed the conversations. But after that one outdoor activity, you would see children and entire family interact often to each other.
Spending time or performing any outdoor activities in a natural environment is essential for the development of healthy children. Research has shown that green outdoor surroundings help in reducing ADHD symptoms in children.
Tip #4: Create Activity Kits
Involve your children in basic activity kits made at home. Give them some sponge dabbing, tear & pasting, doodling, stacking, cleaning-up, buttoning, zipping…the list can go on and on and on.
Various toys such as blocks, puzzles, toy sets, fruit or vegetables set, doctor’s set, matching boxes, Lego sets, and different shape games are some of the best items for an activity kit. Different activity kits allow children to build up skills.
You will observe that your children will play creatively. Fortunately, these screen-free activities will have replaced screen time. In addition to this, your kids are far more organized and you gain sufficient confidence.
Tip #5: Promise to Limit Your Own Screen Time
Parents are the first and best teachers for children’s skills development. Children learn a lot from their parents. You too got to reduce your own screen time, especially in the evening hours. Kids need complete attention in the evening hours because they are tired by the day’s activities. If a parent begins to utilize this time interacting with kids, the interaction becomes successful.
Different studies have also shown that parents can have quality communication with their children when doing screen free activities together, like reading and coloring and painting.
You can create your child’s library featured with different types of books. For example – picture books, board books, flap books, etc. A collection of good books will help your children remain motivated about reading. Create a painting corner for your kids with a drawing book and a storage color box. Your affection towards creative usage of things will make the child always excited.
These days, several digital devices such as laptop, smartphones, tablets or even smartwatches have become an integral part of our day to day lives. They are great when used appropriately. At the same time, spending valuable time with family, or friends away from screen plays a great role in promoting children’s social-emotional learning skills and healthy development.
Also Read: How to Make Your Child SMART
Thanks for blazing this trail!
I hope to have done justice with the draft. And, will definitely see a change through you if your child is involved in screen-based activities.
Happy Screen-Free Parenting!