Moms are used to fighting with their kids to stop watching television, but now the battle has been made much harder. Kids have so many devices to choose from – television, computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. It is no wonder that most moms sound like a stuck record begging the kids to put the phone down and go play outside. Unfortunately, it will probably only get worse as the kids get older. They grow out of the age where playing outside is fun, and they start with social media and chatting to friends online.
Screen addiction is a real thing, and it doesn’t just affect the children. Do you find yourself staring blankly at a newsfeed for who knows how long, or staying up for hours watching series or scrolling through games on your phone? Most people don’t realize how bad their screen addiction is, and often don’t want to admit it when it is pointed out.
Not only does a screen addiction hinder your child’s social and emotional development, but it can also compromise their safety. As much as you may try to monitor the kid’s activity and content that they are exposed to, you can’t be there all the time. You never know what they might be seeing, even unintentionally, and who might be trying to contact them. Having strict rules in place that allow for screen time to be cut down is paramount to ensuring healthy development and safety.
As tough as it might be, if you have a screen addiction in your home, you need to fight it. The kids might not agree to it straight away (or the rest of the household), but it is something you have to do for the family’s wellbeing.
- Discuss a healthy balance – Everyone needs to be on board when fighting screen addiction at home. here will be different needs for each person, but everyone needs to agree on a healthy balance. Maybe dad works on his phone – so he would need more screen time than the kids. It might be a struggle at first, but you should be able to come up with a schedule that suits everyone.
- Agree to the benefits – As frustrating as it might be seeing your whole family constantly staring at a phone or the television, you have to agree that there are benefits at times. There is so much educational content out there for both kids and adults, and who doesn’t like catching up with friends every once in a while? Just be sure that as much as everyone understands the benefits of screen time, this does not justify meaningless time spent in front of a screen.
- Understanding what different screens are around – Most people think of screen addiction as just meaning an addiction to a phone. While this is the most common form, there are other types of screens that people spend endless hours ogling at. Televisions, tablets and laptops are all culprits. Whether it is binge watching a series or playing a game online, the time quickly slips and you don’t realize how long you’ve spent doing pretty much nothing.
- Set an example – As the parent, you need to set your phone down if you expect your child to do the same. Don’t use your phone unless there is a proper reason, switch the television off if nobody is watching and make sure that you spend time doing things that don’t involve a screen. Encouraging this behaviour will only work if you practice it yourself.
- Know the risks – As a family, you need to understand the importance of having screens around, but also agree that restrictions need to be put in place. Without them, there are significant risks that your child could face by having a screen addiction. Sleep deprivation, lowered empathy, gained weight and lowered school performance are all very possible side effects from a screen addiction. Educating your children to what might happen is the best way to help them understand why restrictions need to be put in place.
- Encourage bonding time – The family will all benefit from a reduction in screen time. You will be able to get more done and spend more quality time together as a family. Switch the television off and put the phones away for a good, bonding family dinner together. Your time together is much more important than a refreshed newsfeed.
- Engage in family activities – The best way to get the kids to put their phones down, is to offer something better for them to do. Spend days out picnicking or go on hikes – getting out and about in the fresh air will squish any desire to be on a phone.