Children develop bad habits as they grow up, one of them is too much screen time. The effects of too much screen time has lasting consequences. As parents we should help our children in whatever way possible to reduce the bad effects of this habit. Lets discuss some of the ways we can reduce the bad effects of excessive screen time.
Set Limited Viewing Times
Excessive screen time is not healthy for children. In the case of watching television, a positive solution could be to set aside for your child a daily amount of viewing time for him/her. If you are not going to curb your child’s viewing excesses by turning off the television completely, then you can choose the appropriate time and programs you feel your child should be watching.
At young ages, it is much easier to control and limit the viewing habits of children rather than waiting to when the child is in their adolescent years and then you want to control their screen time. By this time you are dealing with smart phones, social media and other influences. It would be easier to control your child when he/she realizes that they are only permitted to watch a limited amount of programs in a day.
Encourage Other Activities
Reducing a child’s dependence on screen time, means that they must be actively engaged in something else more productive. As they say ‘an idle mind is the devils workshop’. As parents we should encourage our children to engage in other forms of activities like swimming, reading, writing, art work e.t.c. We should also make sure that we create an environment where these resources and facilities are readily available for the child. E.g. we could register our child for swimming classes, visit their school and enroll them in an after school activity, provide necessary books for reading and art work e.t.c. This would even help the child as some child discover hidden potentials in the process of exploring learning new things
Set a Time to Play and Bond With Them
We as parents should also set aside a standard play time with our kids. It is common knowledge that parents who live in busy cities like Lagos; don’t have much play time with their children. This should not be an excuse for a parent not to set aside time no matter how small to play with their child on a daily basis. Quality time is very important. On weekends more time should be set aside to hang out with our children and bond. We can also engage them in outdoor activities like football or basketball, or simply take a walk.
If you can’t spare the time to play and hang out with them when they are between the ages of 3-6yrs; don’t expect them to be more receptive to your requests of hanging out with them when they are much older (most especially their adolescent and teenage years). Some parents feel the only thing they need to do is switch of the television and order their kids around. These same parents are guilty of ignoring bonding time with their children, no wonder we have a lot of juvenile delinquents around these days. Take your time to ask questions and also listen to them. Be actively involved in the affairs of their lives.
Make Yourself a Good Example
The word ‘do as I do and not do as I say’ is very important if we want to positively influence our children’s viewing habits. The best way to get our children to reduce their viewing time is to set a good example for them. The question now is: as parents what type of example are we setting for our children? Children in most cases tend to copy what they see others doing. In most cases they model both the positive and negative behaviors of their parents. If they see you reading a book, they are more likely to read. And if they see you watching television, they too will do likewise.
Consciously and unconsciously they are watching your every movement. Their little eyes making judgements of what they see and what goes on around them. Their parents actions (or even other adults around them) eventually form the behavioral pattern they grow up with in the future.
Be the Parent
As parents our primary duty to our children is to ensure we protect our children. Make these tough decisions for your children. And always go the next step of explaining why you have made the decision – this will help them follow through and someday choose it for themselves.