Ways To Limit Screen Time And Improve Minds

Ways To Limit Screen Time

By allowing children to use devices during their leisure time, we are teaching them this is the main activity they can do in their spare time.

Most parents at one time or another have used electronic devices as a babysitter. This could be for a number of reasons, such as wanting a bit of quiet time to yourself to collect your thoughts, wrap presents without them noticing or to spend time with another grown-up without having constant interruptions.

There is nothing wrong with this, then again if this is a common occurrence and there is an expectation, by both parents and children, that digital entertainment is the only way to be occupied and alleviate boredom, then this becomes an issue.

From observations, children seem to get hyperactive after watching TV, playing computer games or staring at a screen for long stretches. An abundant amount of unused energy is stored up that leads to what I call the 'electronic crash’, similar to a sugar crash.

They get very emotional, over sensitive, aggressive and have changeable moods. They can be conversing normally one minute, and then something sets them off and the yelling starts.



After wondering what causes this and having addressed things like hunger and sleep, the next thing to look into is physical activity. What are they doing in their spare time? Are they moving their bodies? Are they sat still for most of the day?

If they are not very active, get them doing things that does not involve them staring at a screen most of the day. Here are a few things to do so screen time is limited.

Limit Screen Time

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers the following guidelines on screen time:


  • Children under 2 should have no screen time; and
  • Children over 2 should be limited to 1 or 2 hours of screen time a day.
There is no clarity on if this includes or excludes time spent in front of screens at school.

I have opted to adopt this rule for leisure and not educational purposes.

A way to limit leisure screen time is to have rules, such as, no TV watching before school and after 7pm on school nights. With all the activities that need to fit into a day, there would be days when no TV would be watched at all.

Having said this, having a 2 hour limit on weekends is more difficult to monitor and there would probably need to be a bit more leniency on these days.

Perhaps a weekend rule of no more than an hour and a half in one stretch and a total of 3 hours per day.

Encourage Reading

There are some children who love reading and others who have to be encouraged.

Work on getting children to do some reading every day. Ideally, it would be a book they are interested in and can lose themselves in. If not, it could also be a paragraph in the local paper, a letter you received or on a topic they are researching for school.

Ideally, they would read for 20 minutes a day, although if your child doesn’t like reading, start with 5 minutes a day and build up to 20 minutes from there. The goal is to keep them away from devices by reading something.

It also gives you an opportunity to assess their comprehension level of what they are reading and can start a discussion which in turn helps with learning how to communicate with them.

Reading can be further encouraged by creating a reading nook in the home where anyone can go to read.

Homework

I wish I could say I love homework, I can’t.

I personally have never liked having or doing homework, even though it is something that needs to be done.

Pending on how much homework there is, two hours over a weekend can easily be spent completing it.

If topics need in-depth research, the amount of time spent on homework can increase dramatically and be spread over days.

Having a designated area in the house to do homework is a good idea. It takes children - and adults - away from the distraction of the TV screen.

Play Games

Think more board, card and physical games. Even though, this may require interacting with other people, there are also some games that can be played individually.


There are also physical (sporting) games and activities that can be played.  Such as football, basketball, baseball, tennis, dancing to name a few.


The good thing about playing games is it can be done either inside or outside. It all depends on what type of game being played.


This leads to lots of physical energy being used.

Making Things

Arts and craft, woodwork, scrapbooking, metalwork, drawing, painting, building things with Lego or a Meccano set.

All of these activates allow children to create things through the use of imagination.

Those who love making things can even create some sort of workshop space in the home

Conclusion

These are some ways to stop using electronic devices as a babysitter and get children spending time doing other things that would develop their social, imaginative and physical skills.

Some of these things would involve having to create space in the home to accommodate the equipment needed.

Achieving this is possible with the use of clever home decoration. Especially if there is not enough space in your home to house activities that doesn’t require the use of screens.

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