“These days young kids don’t have any place to form an epic adventure. It’s more often in front of the TV screen or a laptop. That’s very hard on them. They’re being taught daily unsocial skills. Facebook is an unsocial skill. It’s so sad.” — John Lydon
The amount of time spent on watching television, using computers, playing video or computer games, using tablets or smartphones has undergone sea change during the last decade or so. This widespread and massively addictive phenomenon has made the task of parenting both daunting as well as tricky.
Empathy and social skills has become the front line casualty of excessive usage of screen time as child finds it difficult to learn these soft skills merely by sitting in front of screen. Which in turn affects their all round personality in the long run.
But if you wish to counter this menace by limiting screen time then it doesn't mean that you should stop the complete accessibility of devices ’cause there is every likelihood that your kid might also be using screen for studies and homework. You can help your kids by keeping these 5 things in mind.
1. No need to get extremely critical of Screen time
It isn't your best day in the office, you come home to find your eight year old twins fighting with each other over some trivial issue. You are not in best of mood to get yourself involved. So you give them your mobile and iPad. You feel relieved to get some quite time. You chose to spend some quality time with your wife watching your favorite sitcom on television.
Parents can’t count on their own experiences ’cause ubiquitous presence of technological interface is somewhat recent phenomenon. As a consequence most parents often fail to come up with a plan to counter this ever invasive interface and find themselves struggling with unique challenges.
And the fun part is, as kids get older these challenges get more and more complex. Therefore the strategy to counter it shouldn't focus on it’s negative aspect only.
2. Make them understand the pros & cons of screen time
Your colleague is narrating the story of a teenager girl whose personal and private photos were leaked on internet after her breakup. The other day one of your neighbor was telling the story of his son, how he managed to learn video editing from internet and now he is a well recognized you tuber himself.
It’s your responsibility to make your kid aware about the benefits and risks associated with the excessive usage of screen time. And for God sake please don’t expect them to get all your apprehensions immediately. You need to have loads of patience when it comes to making them do what you want them to do.
Once they are in a better position to appreciate the benefits of limiting their screen time, their vulnerability to develop it into an addictive behaviour would get minimized considerably. And that’s exactly what should be your primary objective here.
3. Be a role model for them before establishing commonly accepted rules around the usage
While driving back to your home you are on con-call, as soon as you reach home you get a surprise Skype call from one of your school friend and end up talking for more than an hour.
You get so preoccupied with your own shit that you often forget to instill any discipline in your personal behavioral pattern. And you don’t even deem it necessary to revisit this non issue.
The abuse of the device by adults is so rampant that some researchers calls mobile devices as an “adult pacifiers”. Since we are living in the age of constant anxiety, we are always looking for an opportunity to soothe that anxiety. Since these devices are often within close proximity, they end up providing immediate relief to us.
Since parents are the most important role model for their kids, it becomes critical for parents that before restricting screen time of your kid, you become aware of your own level of addiction. Please start watching your own usage of technology and media ‘cause if you expect kids to follow your dictum, then be ready to walk the talk yourself.
4. Make them understand the futility of being addicted to technology
You are pretty aware of addictive nature of these devices, yet find it difficult to drive this message across the younger kids. You are quite persistent in sharing the stories of those kids who just ended up messing their academic career because of their incorrigible addiction to games and apps.
Most of the applications and games are built to make their users addictive. The integrated rewards in form of progressive levels and points earned gives every participant illusion of being in control of the proceedings. Not only that, it gives them an option of sharing their updated performance with all their social media friends, which makes it an irresistible affair.
The moment you are hooked to the game, the happy chemical known as dopamine keeps you engaged and motivated enough to run after another milestone. Once you are into that loop, you tend to loose control over yourself ’cause you are no longer aware of your own surroundings. You get zoned into it and end up loosing quite a significant amount of your workday as a result.
5. Let them understand “technology is useful as long as it is not making you slave”
You keep dreading all those negative scenarios where your kids are unable to resist themselves from the constant allure of latest technology. And as a consequence they are missing beautiful facets of their young and adventurous life.
Once your kid is in better position to appreciate the underlying propaganda to get them addicted to various games and apps, they would be more vigilant of their own consumption pattern.
They need to understand that usefulness of any technological interface is dependent on the ability of the user to extract the best out of it. The user should never forget to exercise the right of making the final choice depending upon his own set of requirements.
Let’s face it, your child is bound to make mistakes while using media and screen time. It’s your responsibility to make them learn from their mistakes. No doubt, as a parent, it will always remain an ongoing challenge for you, but you must ensure it remains a fun filled and risk free experience for them.
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Originally published on studentlifemadeeasy.com