Internet usage and the corresponding screen time has increased manifolds for the kids at home during COVID. In this article, we help you realize why it is important to restrict this time and monitor it well. We shall also help you analyze ways to help you deal with it.
We are all witnessing the COVID era of confusions and confrontations. The world has been confronting health risks, life risks, lifestyle risks and even economic risks on all fronts and spheres. With schools being closed and no sporting or friend meetups possible, the situation is worst for the kids. They have been ‘locked up’ in homes, with nothing much to do. ‘Internet’ has been the only glimmer of hope in these gloomy times. Businesses (especially small and mid-sized businesses) have been facing meltdown risks and resorting to the web and mobile world for sales. Even the kids related businesses are looking for online options to steady the dwindling numbers. Since everyone is online all the time; so are businesses and brands and the results have been more than promising. Online sales have been doing unprecedented numbers, both in terms of visits as well as sales.
The Internet has been playing the important role of ‘connectivity’ to the outside world, but increased screen time is making us lose connectivity with our true selves. Reports suggest that ‘there has been a net 47% increase in the net data usage during COVID times.’ Taking in information through the web is good, but over-information, especially for small aged kids coupled with extensive screen time is a health risk that cannot be ignored. Excessive gadget-time is exposing our kids to both mental stress and physical issues.
This has led to parent’s being constantly worried about the safety of their kinds. The situation is like a double-edged sword. You cannot stop the kids completely from viewing online content, as this is their only mode of enjoyment as well as education these days. And, over-indulgence poses great risks. Parents are thus confused as to how to maintain balance.
Schools are going mobile, with classes now being organized on virtual meetings through laptops. Homeworks and meetup with friends and teachers also occur through these devices. They have all led to a multiplicative increase in screen time for kids. The important parenting question here is that, ‘is it good’?
Summing Up Screen-time
Screen time is any time that an individual spends in front of a screen; be it a laptop, television, smart watch, smart phone, tabs, xbox consoles etc. There are many health risks conjoined with excessive screen time, especially in the case of kids. It leads to:
- Weaker eyesight
- Posture Issues
- Weaker Mind focus skills
- Neurological issues like unpreparedness for ‘free time’ or ‘boring time’.
- Lower level of innovation
- Irrational mood Swings
- Tired mind, etc.
Moreover, these devices seem to form a bit of an addictive pattern amongst kids wherein their moods may get aggravated during unavailability of one of these screens.
What needs to be Done?
Studies have shown that ‘90% of Brain Growth Happens Before Kindergarten’. It is this time that a kid begins to understand his surroundings, read faces, understand smiles, sorrows, anger, etc. But, this growth and analysis skill weakens with excessive screen time. With lower human contact, and thus skill practice, our coming generations may slowly cease to use their brains for face reading and other brain intelligence antics.
Screen time may attract your kids attention and give you scope for that much needed ‘me time’, but is really worth the risk?
For young kids, apart from the screen time, another key issue is, ‘ what is being ‘watched’ during the screen time’? With a slew of objectionable and bullying-promoting content available freely, it is more than important for parents to keep track of their kids online and offline activities.
These are some tips that can help you stay awake and ahead of these challenges:
1. Screen Time Rules: This is a must. Scientific Reports have suggested that kids below 2 years of age should not be allowed any screen time and from 2 to 8 years old should only get an hour of screen time. As parents, you should thus be creating definite limits on screen hours, including the available gaming hours.
No ifs, No buts; or the web connection should be cut.
2. Interesting Innovative Games: This may take a bit of your time, but it definitely is well worth the effort. Nothing works for a kid like an ‘interested parent interaction’. Thus, give kids some of your own time and play some interesting games (It cannot be a playstation or an Xbox) together. A sand pit or blocks may be a good idea for toddlers and a board game like ‘Monopoly’ may be the best option for the adult ones.
3. Letting them Know: Kids after the age of 4 to years begin to absorb unimaginable data from the web. There are a lot of safety issues involved. It is thus best, that you make your child sit and converse freely to inform them about these possibilities. This conversation will help your kid keep an eye out for unsafe content as well as to understand your mindset of a ‘paranoid’ parent.
4. Follow what you preach: When you teach your kids about web etiquette and precautions for internet safety, you should follow the same as well. One, it is not that difficult to follow and two, your kids follow what they ‘see’ you doing rather what you tell them to do.
5. Technology to Sieve through Technology: If technology has given us bad content, it has given us eons of good content too. You could log into the good content and look for tools and freely available apps that can help you put locks and navigate through the content browsed by your kid.
6. Frequent Breaks are a Must: We know that in this digital era, kids and internet devices are literally inseparable. With schools and friends meetings going online during COVID times, the kids have new reasons to stick to their laptops and phones. Kindly ensure that the kids take frequent breaks from these devices. This is an essential agreement required to protect their eyesight as well as to avoid unhealthy postures.
7. Kid Chec5k: With our kids consuming unlimited data through web devices, it is important for parents to interact with kids and lookout for signs of kids suffering from any psychological complexities or incompetencies or mental issues. There are telltale signs in kids behavior when they suffer from cyber bullying, threats, etc. As a responsible parent, keep a definite lookout for these signs.
8. Physical Exercise: Screens are making our kids and our forthcoming generations weak on the physical forefront. Kids and adults alike, are always seen glued to their respective screens. The best way out of this screen bondage, is to go for a walk, take a run or maybe do a dance jig with your kid. It will provide you with the required physical exercise as well as give immense happiness. It will also help strengthen your ‘pal bond’ with your kid.
Always remember that parenting is an ever-evolving task and there are no perfect parents. So, if your kid does get some extra screen time, once a blue moon; do not fret over it. Discipline is necessary and so is happiness.The above stated tips are all easy to do tasks. I hope they shall help you achieve both discipline and happiness in an amicable way with your kids, in these tough times.