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Recent studies have shown that screen time, if left unmonitored, can lead to many conditions such as childhood obesity and an increased risk of social isolation. If you have a preschooler at home who refuses to part with the TV remote, read these simple tips to know how to phase out his screen time gradually, and in a disciplined manner.
Are you a parent who relies too much on screen time, mobile games and other such devices to calm down your preschooler? Do you find yourself handing him a video game without a second thought, when you are in the middle of a chore? Then here is some news for you: too much screen time can make your preschooler obese, and there is a chance, he might start showing signs of aggressiveness and violence. But as a parent and caregiver, you know all screen time is not that bad. There are educational programs and games out there too! How do you strike a balance so that your child gains the best of both the worlds- screen time and non-screen time? Follow these simple tips to make screen time work in a positive and nourishing way for your child:
Keep Informed About the Effects of Uncontrolled Screen time
If your preschooler watches too much TV or plays video games, he runs a higher chance of
- Childhood Obesity
- Poor Academic performance
- Engagement in risky behaviours
- Be lured by mindless advertising, and become incapable of making his own choices
- Imitate violent behaviour
Become More Pro-active
Plan ahead what your child is going to watch. Ponder for a while if the programs will benefit your child in any way. Discourage flipping through channels, and sitting glued in front of the TV. Preview mobile games before handing over your smart phone to your child. Always have parental controls in place and take an active interest in what your child is watching or playing. This will help your child learn the limits early on, and he will not view all screen time hours as means to fill his loneliness.
Record your Child’s Favourite TV program
Let us face it. Some children programs with all the gizmos and innovative tricks are great fun to watch. However, letting your child watch every such program will make him physically inactive. Some of these are so addictive that your child might end up neglecting his homework and outdoor play activities. You can tackle this issue by recording your child’s favourite program, and playing it for him later. This way you can forward the advertisements, and let him watch more enjoyable stuff.
Encourage Physical activity
Give your preschooler video games that have at least some physical activity. Play a game of Jumping Jacks during commercial breaks. Put on a yoga mat, and encourage your preschooler to stretch while watching TV. Discourage bringing on greasy snacks while watching TV.
Never Combine Meal-times with Screen Time
For tired parents and caregivers, this might look like an ideal situation. But again, this has its side effects. Eating in front of TV increases the screen time disproportionately. Your child might end up munching endlessly, or he might get so engrossed in watching the TV, that he forgets to eat! Instead, make mealtimes more interesting by engaging in lively conversations and keeping the remote out of reach.
Finally, remember that smart screen time strategies will bring you closer to your child. Be gentle, yet firm; appreciate your child when he is following the rules. Encourage him when he is trying to reduce his screen time by patting him on the back, or giving him a hug. When his teachers praise him for his improved performance in school, he’s going to hug you back.