If there is one thing that most of the parents dread these days is fostering childhood that is not dependent on Screens, Mobile phones and Tablets — the one where the child plays outdoor games, does creative stuffs and activities and read books for fun. However the reality is, most of the kids want to spend time with mobile phones and Tablets or Television since all their friends are doing so.
Richard Bromfield, Ph.D., author of Cyber-Smarts: Raising Children in a Digital Age, mentions a couple of other parent fears about devices. Screen steals time and attention away from other healthy activities beneficial for the overall growth of the child.
We will start with some introspection here: who gave access to mobile phones/Tablets/Televisions and how did our child get access to Mobile phone/Tablets/Television?
Its us. And the reasons can be many.
For our toddlers, what started as a way finding it too cute to see the phone held in our child’s cute little hands, to an addiction to screen and a constant power struggles and negotiations with them.
So are you ready for the solution?
Here we go!
Start with you: Before we put the focus on how to monitor the screen time for our children, check on your own stock. How often do we say just a minute and check the phone for no less than 15 minutes? Do we just jump first thing in the morning to check our phone?
Replace screen time with Playtime: Children learn by observation so before monitoring their screen time and practice before you preach. Engage your child in other activities like play with them or read a story with them or try doing a DIY or a craft activity with them or go to the park with them
Ease the transition: Rather than expecting the child to turn off the device immediately, use the other method. Sit with your child and ask him how was his day in the school, what new things he learned today. Once you are connected, you can reiterare the end of the screen time and maybe can continue discussing more things with your child.
Listen more: If increased screen time is a regular tension in your home, start by willing to listen and understand your child more. Try to understand the perspective of your child. Maybe you will have a different perspective on the topic of discussion, but ensure your child that you are listening and ready to offer help if needed.
Teach them to manage their own screen time: We must teach our children how to be responsible and manage their screen time themselves. Put the power to turn off the screen in their hands[within your limits].
You must have known about TV Tokens. As something which your child earns or as a reward. There is a different way to use them that can empower them to take charge of their screen time.
Print out the Tokens and the list of slow paced shows for your child.
This is how you can go:
You can say “ Lately we have been arguing about watching TV or Mobile phone. I don’t like the argument however i know that you like to watch TV. So i have special tools for you to make you incharge of your screen time. Here are the 2 Tokens”
With my son who is 7 years old now. I give 2 Tokens to him everyday and with 1 Token he can have 20 minutes of screen time. He can decide the list of TV shows that he wants to watch or Nursery Rhymes on Mobile. Once he decides which show he needs to watch, he can come to me and ask for the Token. This way he can utilize 2 Tokens per day and the next day he gets another 2 Tokens. There are times when he asks for more Tokens and I explain to him that too much TV/Mobile phone time is not good.
Why this worked:
The Token system helped put the responsibility of screen time on my child and made him feel that he is a responsible child and he takes care of the screen time.
All the power struggles and negotiation stopped when I instituted this Token system with my son.
I love having Tokens that are just tools and not rewards[which is given when he does something that i want him to do] or a punishment[which is taken away when he does not abide by it] empowers the child to be incharge of his own screen time.
So, try this and let me know in the comment section if this too worked for your child.