It is important that parents guide their child’s screen time this summer. The holiday is here which means children have more unstructured hours to fill. Even though it is a relief for parents since the school stress will reduce, there’s still some work to do. For children, holiday means more screen time for them and excessive screen time has its disadvantages. It is up to parents to make sure that the holiday is full of both educating and fun activities.
This Summer make it a priority for family time, as spending more time with your family will help you feel connected. Excessive use of social media is driving children into an addiction to social media.
The Importance of a Family Digital Detox
Rather, you can encourage your family to start the digital detoxification process with keeping a journal this summer to record all offline adventures. You could also take some time after meals to discuss your day without a device. Modern children are blessed with the benefits of today’s technology, but as parents, it is necessary to help them understand when it is time to disconnect from the digital world. Digital detoxification is a great opportunity for the whole family to make a decisive assessment of screen time and promote healthy habits. No matter where your family is on this journey, this summer is a good time to start the process of digital detoxifying together.
Why parents need to guide children’s screen time
- What children watch online can have an adverse effect on them. Violent content causes viewers to think and act more aggressively. Additionally, according to JAMA Psychiatry the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” which showed a teen girl actually following through on her suicide, suicides among teens rose 13 per cent in the months that followed. Very simply, the more we fill our minds with a certain type of content, the more likely we are to emulate it. Because our brains are a bit like personal laptops; they record what they consume and can alter our view of the world, and what is acceptable. Content that is repeated over and over has a more profound impact. This is why we need to be careful with what our children are watching and consuming all day and especially during the summer holiday.
- Using screens till late in the night suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and keep kids feeling alert. This makes it difficult for them to get the amount of sleep needed. Sleep deprivation has been linked to the increased risk of obesity and many other negative effects.
- Spending too much time on social media can lead to FOMO and an inferiority complex. Apps such as Instagram, facebook, snapchat have created the culture of comparison.
- The online world poses such dangers as cyberbullying, sexting, identity theft and others and kids may come across them.
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How to guide your Child’s screen time this Summer
Research proves that face-to-face interaction is essential for a child’s emotional intelligence and social skills. Spending more time off the screen will benefit both the children and parents. Set reasonable limits that allow for family time and other important activities, and incorporate media and tech in ways that bring the family together. Here are some ideas on how to guide your child’s screen time and still ensure maximum learning and fun time for them this summer:
Talk to your children
Do whatever it takes to explain to your kids the need for less screen time. Children who understand, “It’s not healthy to watch too much TV,” are less likely to try and break the rules compared to kids who think, “I can’t watch TV because my parents are mean.” Explain how violent video games, movies, and images can be harmful to them. Also, discuss the potential dangers of online predators. Discuss how you can work together as a family to reduce potential risks.
Stay well connected with your kids
Have a conversation with your children and ask about their day. It will show that you value them and are interested in them, more than in your devices. Spend more time with your family, it will help to feel more connected, and reduce their over-reliance on social media. Doing this, you are laying a good example for them.
Online safety is key
Educate your kids on what behaviour is appropriate and what things are not acceptable online. Much more than the quantity of what they are exposed to, parents need to pay attention to the quality also. Discuss issues such as sexting and sharing sexually-explicit photos and videos and explain where it can lead to. Take all necessary precautions to prevent your child from interacting with strangers online. Also, you may use parental controls to stay ahead of potential dangers and keep kids safe when you are not around.
Create a family media plan
Sit down with your kids and work out a weekly plan that includes activities such as summer camps, trips, and events as well as media and tech time. I
Go on vacations or family trips
According to research, kids who spend time outdoors are not only calmer and happier but also have better school performance, less likely to suffer from obesity and have improved sleep patterns. Choose outdoor activities for the whole family, for instance, having picnics in a park, playing basketball, riding bikes, etc. Parents should also try to take their vacation at this time as this affords them the opportunity of bonding with their children. Children can visit historical sites, amusement parks and other places of interest where they can have fun.
Invest in their hobbies
Make sure your child has plenty of hobbies that can take them away from their devices. You can also choose a hobby for the whole family to enjoy. Help your child explore multiple interests. You could do simple things like playing board games such as Monopoly or Scrabble.
In this digital age, access to laptops, smartphones and television cannot be totally eliminated during holidays. Nevertheless, it is important to regulate access to these electronic devices through mutually agreed rules.
Parents should, therefore, fill their child’s free time with learning and other fun but productive activities so that the children are not idle.