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How to Effectively Manage Your Kids Screen Time

Dr. Tanya Mander   •   30 Sep, 2022   •   6 mins

Living in a technologically driven society comes with its fair share of challenges. The line between ‘learning from technology’ and ‘becoming distracted and engulfed’ by technology is very blurred! With the abundance of content and knowledge on the internet, one becomes completely consumed by it!

Parenting has never been an easy job, but the rise of digital natives with their own devices (phones, tablets, TVs, laptops, computers) and access to the Internet has made it even more arduous. Statistics reveal that 42% of young children have their personal electronic devices now. The average screen time for children has moved from mere 5 minutes in 2011 to 48 minutes in 2017. Now, in a post-pandemic world, this metric has touched 1.5 hrs!

This has left many parents concerned about the time and quality of time that their child spends surfing the internet.

could no fetch The accessibility and alluring appeal of the digital world have become a hard-hitting new reality for us. Technology is an integral component of all our lives. From the simple desktop set-up that we have at home to the other gadgets like as smart watches and televisions all around us. It seems like we’re surrounded by screens sometimes.

But we must see the silver lining here. While screens may be unavoidable, it is an excellent opportunity through which we learn more about the world! Becoming technologically savvy is an important survival skill in today’s world, for children and adults alike. This new skill set that we have to teach our children is how to manage their digital spaces and the time they spend there.

Children of today’s age use technology for work and play! Technology is shaping their learning configurations at school, their classrooms are integrated with smart devices playing out lessons, experiments and engaging with students creatively through smart boards, smart TVs, and 3D printers.

School provides children with an advanced learning platform where they execute project-based assignments and ingenuously re-imagined learning outcomes. For all this to play out in favour of the learner needs a healthy, constructive connection between parents, teachers, students, and screens.

It becomes imperative for a parent to step out of a point of view that understands the media-saturated world in terms of binaries or divisions. The key is to rephrase “screen time” to “screen use”, adding and acknowledging the dimension of its usefulness, its application, and our ability to capitalize it for our own good. It does not translate into unbridled and unattended screen usage it requires parents to reimagine the utility of the internet for their children.

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  • As a parent, we know that the Internet is seamless and endless, therefore the first step is to be aware of the content your child is consuming, sharing and even creating. As a safety measure, parents should communicate with their children about their interests on the internet. It’s important to know how your child spends their time on the internet so both of you can decide whether you would like to limit or manage their activities. What apps or websites are being downloaded or frequently visited?
  • Equally important is to offer digital spaces to your child that are not meant for mindless consumption but rather offer a mindful exploration of issues regarding gender, economy, power, politics and history. These digital natives need guidance to navigate the landscape of media and technology; a continuous conversation on all that they are seeing and absorbing and assured opportunities to explore.
  • Technology and creativity are the new horizons of the future. Spaces that offer gaming and puzzles teach some of the most valuable skills like readingand problem-solving. Many resources on the internet can help children become aware of current affairs and news. Websites like Newsahoot write news for children! This can prove to be a fruitful and safe internet activity for your children.
  • The ability to deal with emerging technologies and technical know-how would be a prerequisite for the workplace in the coming years. To deny interaction with screens and technology would mean denying them a place in the future.Children should be allowed and even encouraged to take interest in technology. After all, technology is the future!

As a parent, it’s our responsibility to steer our kids by placing some ground rules. Following are some suggestions to effectively manage screen use:

  1. Aim for balance: Screen use should be evenly balanced with physical activity. Both must find space in your kids’ schedules. It’s important that you and your child together decide how much screen time is appropriate for them, this will help them feel like they have agency over their timetable too.
  1. Screen time: A clear schedule of time spent on screens must be maintained. Adults and children, when at home, must adhere to the same rules. Children learn more from what we do than from what we tell them. Therefore it’s important to set a good example for the kids and not waste too much time perusing our phones and tablets as well.
  1. Help them plan out their screen time schedule: Your can help your children manage their time on the internet by suggesting they split up their screen time in such a way that it is both fun and an educational experience. They can spend 8-10 minutes reading about the news of the day, followed by computer games and art activities, and finally wrapping it up by showing them an informative and fun documentary for kids.
  1. Take a break: Mark a day of the week as a no-screen day for all the members of the family. This teaches kids a thing or two about practising self-restraint and taking an active role in planning their own recreational activities, such as a day out to a theme park or a museum!

The list above is suggestive. Each family and its set-up are unique. One may adopt any method so long one is willing to participate in this exploration of learning from technology. We are living in a world of screens, the need is to make our children proficient in screen use and wean them away from ignorant, unproductive screen time. After all, technology and screens are going to inevitably become a big part of their professional and personal lives in the future.

Dr. Tanya Mander is the proud mother of Aadir, an avid reader and Newsahoot subscriber. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab.

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