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FUN ACTIVITIES TO LIMIT YOUR CHILD’S SCREEN TIME

on July 31, 2022

Rain or sunshine, your children do not need to be hooked to their screens. With these fun alternatives to screen time, we are sure you’ll hear the question “May I use the phone/watch TV?” a lot less!


We live in a digital world where screens and screen time have become  part and parcel of our day-to-day lives – from basic communication and entertainment, to work, and even managing a household! While this has made life a tad bit easier for adults, the question of the hour is how much, and what kind of, screen time is okay for children. 

This article explores the different ways that screen time can be controlled for children, and some alternate activities that will keep your little ones just as engaged and entertained, even on endless rainy days when they’re stuck indoors! 


Why Should Parents Monitor Their Child’s Screen Time? 

It is easy for us to lose track of time and surroundings while using a phone, laptop, TV – or any kind of screen. The same is true for children. Apart from this, studies show they also are exposed to other risks, including: 

  • Lack of Focus
    Excessive screen time over-stimulates the brain making concentration and absorption of information difficult. Further, the access to so many different apps and platforms that one can easily switch between makes it difficult for children to focus on one thing at a time.

  • Risk of Obesity
    Excessive screen time leads to laziness and lethargy, as large amounts of time are spent inactive in front of a screen. In the long run, this could lead to excessive weight gain and obesity.

  • Difficulty Socialising
    Messaging, voice/video chatting, and even talking to people while gaming is not the same as face-to-face interaction. Too much screen time can desensitise children, and make it difficult for them to adapt to social situations and interact with peers and others.

 

  • Behaviour Problems
    A large part of learning in childhood occurs through imitation. When children see violence and aggressive behaviour, they tend to imitate it. Unregulated screen time and exposure to content that is not age appropriate can cause behavioural issues such as irritation, anger, loss of interest in daily activities – to name a few.

  • Sleep Issues
    Constant exposure to screens and ‘blue light’ reduces the amount of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep. Reduced melatonin causes difficulty in falling asleep, inability to reach REM stage of sleep, and restless sleep. In fact, it is advised that even adults have zero screen exposure up to at least one hour before bed! 

    How Can You Regulate Your Child’s  Screen Time? 

    It is important to have a conversation with your child, and help them understand that excessive screen time is unhealthy, and therefore it needs to be limited. Once they are made to understand in a calm manner, they are more likely to be willing to abide by healthy screen time rules and boundaries. 

    You can sit together, as a family, and create a schedule that incorporates screen time, as well as other activities. The optimal amount of screen time and type of content could be as follows: 

    Age

    Duration

    Type of Content

    Up to 18 months 

    Ideally zero screen time

    18 – 24 months 

    15 minutes per day

    Video call with grandparents/ parents out of town

    2 – 5 years

    30 – 45 minutes per day

    Educational, Dance, Music, Sports, Hobbies 

    6 years and older

    1 hour per day

    Educational, Dance, Music, Sports, Hobbies 

     

    Parents, a friendly tip –  children learn through observation! By reducing your own screen time – for example,  switching out one hour of Kindle for an hour of reading a  book – your child is more likely to handle a switch from screen time to physical activity with more ease. 

     Another helpful way to control screen time is to have a designated screen-free zone in the house. This could be the dining table during meal times, or in a certain location of the house. The screen-free zone could also have a dedicated space for board games, books, puzzles – something fun for the whole family to do together. If it is not feasible to have a dedicated screen-free zone, parents can set up screen-free times where everyone in the house puts their devices aside and engages in other activities. 


    Activities to Help Control Your Child’s Screen Time

    We understand that children can be restless, and there are many video games and on-screen content available to keep them occupied. While it may be the easiest option, it is not always the best for their health – physical, mental, and emotional. 

    Here are some activities that can help reduce screen time, and are a whole lot of fun for little ones: 


    Explore the World and Develop Hobbies

    Children are curious about the world around them. The early years are a great time for them to explore their surroundings and find things that interest them. They can explore, ask elders questions about different subjects that interest them, and learn more about their own selves as well.

    Art and Crafts: Bring out the coloured paper, stickers, crayons, and pretty much anything you can find at home, and see your little ones have the time of their lives creating unique cards, toys, puppets, and so much more. Their creativity is the limit! To give them a nudge,  the Splashin' Sea - Craft Box, Scribbles Finger Fabric PaintsPalette Brush-On Fabric Paints, and these Perler Beads Art Sets are excellent for little ones to develop an interest in arts and crafts! 


    Puzzles: Give your child a puzzle and watch how quickly time flies by!  We recommend a range of different puzzles appropriate for children across different age groups. Parents, some of these puzzles may interest you too! For an easy age-wise break-up of puzzles for your child, head over to this blog


    Journals and Scrapbooks: To help your children forget about phones and devices, introduce them to scrapbooking and journaling as a tremendously beneficial coping mechanism and  a creative outlet. Use stickers, tabs, colourful markers, and even different pens, and watch your child’s imagination unfurl.

    Colouring and Painting: Got a lil’ Picasso or Van Gogh at home? Encourage them to try out different types of colours and painting techniques. If painting is not your child’s cup of tea, these dust-free chalks and  reusable chalk books  are sure to keep them joyfully occupied for hours!


    Activities for Weekends

    Weekends can be a time for over-indulgence in screen time. While some amount of screen time is a done deal, here are some fun activities that not only keep little ones (and adults) away from the screen, but can also be a great way for the whole family to bond. 

    Ahoy There, Matey: Plan a day of fun for the whole family. Bury treasure in a ‘secret spot’ inside or outside the house, and spend the day having your children search for the treasure. You can even have a ‘lunch stop’ as a part of the plan where your children have to solve a puzzle to get to the next clue. Incorporate these ‘adventure spots’ and be assured that your little ones will not come begging for some screen time!

    Let’s Build a Fort:  Gather all your pillows, bedsheets, fairy lights, stuffed toys, and rugs and build a fort with your children. Once you have made the most amazing and cosy fort, huddle in it and play a game, or take turns telling stories! 

     

    Let’s Go Camping: Set up a ‘camp’ in your balcony, terrace, or even living room! Make some food together – sandwiches, a quick dessert, or even come up with your own recipe! Eat food, play some fun board games (like Baffled or Dino Trail), and maybe even teach each other something new that you may have learned over the week! End the camp by snuggling up together and going to sleep.

    Encourage Physical Activity: While controlling screen time, it is important to ensure children get enough exercise and physical activity too. However, physical activity doesn’t have to be boring – it can be a chance for your child to learn different forms of dance, pick up a new sport, or even learn a musical instrument! That’s not all, rainy days do not have to limit physical activities and fun – let your little ones jump around and play some hopscotch, right from the comfort of the home! 


    While we cannot eliminate screen time altogether, it is important to control screen time in the best way possible. By encouraging your children to develop different interests, the amount of time they want to spend on screens will naturally decrease, and the chances of them using screen time to learn more about these interests will increase. 

    Screens are undeniably a part of our lives, and if used correctly can have a positive outcome. Using screens in the right way can help children build interests and skills in the long run, if usage and time is controlled effectively. Children, as naturally curious beings, will be more than happy to give up screen time if they are excited and curious about the world around them. It is up to parents, and all of us,  to pique their curiosity with an element of joy!

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