"Just five more minutes, please!"
How many times have we all heard that one!
'Screen time' that largely meant television and a few early video games until the previous generation is now taking on a new meaning altogether. For the 21st century parent, the meaning of this term has simply exploded.
Today, screen time constitutes the constant updates on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Email, Television, YouTube, NetFlix, Games, countless learning apps...the list goes on. Naturally, the conversations and fights around "5-more-minutes" are on the rise.
The digital toy industry can now rival the real-world toy industry. There are about 48,000 developers that focus on developing apps for kids, and more and more parents are willing to spend money buying game apps for their kids. More schools than ever before use iPads, tablets and educational apps as important tools of instruction.
At the time of my writing this piece, there might well be another Pokemon Go on its way to becoming a household name!
Even as the digital world plays such a ubiquitous role even in the lives of very young children, there are global conversations around the fact that technology comes at a cost. Unrestricted media usage has been linked to sleep disorders, depression, aggression, mood disorders, obesity, poor performance in school, and social dysfunction.
Even so, the recommendations of the American Academy of Paediatrics on the "media diet" for children gets harder to stick to.
Here are a few things that can help us manage our kids' online worlds:
Let your children know that you can and will be extremely selective about what they consume and interact with. Play the games they play, watch the programs they watch to understand what messages are getting across to your child's impressionable minds.
Make a family "media plan"
Design base rules around media consumption, write them down and put it on full display for the whole family. Adults should refrain from grabbing the phone as and when they pass by it, because- kids imbibe what they see.
Impose curfews and follow them
Make certain times a complete no-no for media consumption- like mealtimes and bedtimes or even homework times. Children below the age of two should have zero media consumption.
Insist on getting out
Insist that your children get real social lives. Get them out of the house, let them pursue a sport or simply go for a walk every day. It goes a long way to instill the love for "disconnection."
Avoid having multiple devices
Restrict televisions to one common family area. Televisions in kids bedrooms are a definite no-no.
See the positive technology impact
Like everything else, technology and media are also just what we make of it. Technology can disseminate information like never before, help us stay connected, remove barriers to learning new skills and set a new bar for collaboration. In a sense, our kids need technology today. It is in our best interests as parents to understand this fact and make sensible rules around them.
About the author:
Devishobha Chandramouli is the founder and editor of Kidskintha- a platform dedicated to helping millennial parents raise happy kids. Get your own FREE copy of the eBook "137 Proven Productivity Hacks For The Millennial Parent" now.