How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time and What Is the Normal Time Especially During Lockdowns During COVID-19
The COVID-19 global pandemic has restricted families especially with children to the home. Kids between the age of 6 and 12 are spending about 50% time on screens including laptops, phones, TV, and any tech devices. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping us all home, we should put more efforts to limit the amount of screen time for children for safety.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the benefits of these tech devices during such a time. Schools and other educators are using devices to deliver education. For instance, kids can access their homework from home and submit it through the same.
However, the dangers of too much screen time cannot be overlooked either. Access to the Internet without restrictions poses a lot of danger to children. Also, too much screen time can have adverse health effects on kids of different ages. Besides, during COVID-19, there is a lot of traumatizing information on TV, social media, and other sites.
In this article, I will discuss how to limit your child’s screen time. I will also give you a guide to identifying the normal time for screen time, especially during lockdowns due to COVID-19.
Why do you need to limit your child’s screen time?
Screen time refers to the amount of time spent in front of a screen. It could be watching TV, playing video games, or using tablets or phones. And yes, you need to keep an eye on how much of their time is spent watching TV. Most importantly, you must monitor what information they access using their tech devices.
Too much screen time for kids can lead to any of the following:
- Irregular sleep schedules
- Exposes kids to cyber-bullying
- Predatory persons online
- Access to inappropriate information/content
- Screen time is equivalent to spending time without physical activity
- Could tamper with children cognitive development eg. attention span
However, due to COVID-19, it is not unusual for parents to allow children extra screen time. For instance, if your children are using their laptops for school work. They also need to feel connected with their friends. For this reason, they could spend too much time on their phones. It is difficult to limit screen time for children during lockdowns.
A lot is going on in the world right now. It is a global crisis, which can be quite traumatizing for your child. Therefore, you must take charge of controlling how much information they access. Also, do not forget the dangers of spending too much time on TV.
How to limit screen time for your child during COVID-19 lockdowns
Above I have outlined the dangers of letting your child have too much screen time. As I have mentioned, tech devices are quite useful for learning and gaining new skills but everything must be done in moderation.
It is not as easy as it sounds, especially now that children do not have anything better to do. And besides, there is a lot of tension at this moment, which is affecting children mentally. Below is a guideline to limit screen time for your child to protect them:
Step 1: Watch with your kid
You cannot deny children screen time when you do not understand what is going on. Well, we are all staying home, and it is a great time to connect with your child. Ask your child about their favourite programs and pay attention.
This should give you a rough idea of what they prefer to watch. At the same time, I must emphasise on educating your child on the ads. Right now, there is a lot of information about COVID-19 infections, deaths, and other devastating news. While it is important to keep up with the news, sometimes the news can be quite worrying and overwhelming.
To curb anxiety and other emotional health problems, restrict watching too much news. Even when you are not able to watch with them, you can always catch up on news after bedtime or to read on your phone. Ensure that your child does not access inappropriate content from the media.
Step 2: Set up screen-free places and time
Kids love screen time. It can be entertaining and also educational. However, it can disconnect your child from the world around them. Setting up areas in the house where they do not get screen time will create time for exercise and other activities.
For instance, you can ask your children to keep screens off the dining table and bedrooms as well. During this time, be a listener, talk to your kids, and explain to them exactly what is going on.
Answer questions like why they have to stay home and not go out to play. Explain why they have to follow all the directives from the government.
I strongly urge parents to remove TVs from their children’s bedrooms.
Step 3: Set up parental control in all devices
You cannot leave your children to choose what to access and what not to. Parental control will help you to block unwanted content from your kid’s devices. This is especially important when your kid has access to the internet.
You might also need to use these devices to understand how they work. Only then will you be able to teach your child the dangers of these devices. For older kids, you may also need to ask for passwords to their social media.
Step 4: Limit your screen time
You must also limit your screen time when limiting that of your child. Children tend to imitate their behaviours. Besides, it is also unhealthy to have too much screen time. Engage in other activities. For instance, you could read a book or engage in a game.
If you have a TV in the bedroom, it is time to get rid of it. You will be surprised at how less screen time improves your sleep quality. When you limit your screen time, it becomes a lot easier to explain to your child the need to.
Step 5: Encourage other physical activities
With everyone staying home, it is a good time to connect as a family. You should encourage your kids to engage in other activities. Find out what they like to do. For instance, you can play family puzzle games and any other games that do not involve tech devices.
While limiting your child’s screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, you must remain open. Sit your children down and explain to them about the crisis. Answer all the questions that they may have in regards to the situation.
At the same time, limit the amount of news consumption for your kids. Come up with a specific screen time routine for them. Younger children under the age of 2 should not have more than 2 hours of screen time per day.
Use parental control to block unwanted content for older kids. While screen time can be entertaining, also make sure that your child has access to educational content as well. Get involved in your kid’s favourite activities. Also, be sure to watch their favourite programs to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate content.
Written by The Original PC Doctor on 8/5/2020.