“I’m never giving my child the iPad at a young age!” I proudly said to my two friends, who were already parents. We were chatting about the boon and bane of the addictive device.
“No, no, noooo. My kid is gonna be reading books,” I continued to say.
This was before I had kids.
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Every mom and dad has their own style parenting styles. We may not have a consensus on everything we do, but I believe as long as the methods deployed are not detrimental to our children and done with the intent to yield positive results, it’s OK.
Allowing screen time for our kids has been a controversial debate. Even the late mogul behind the iPad and iPhone did not condone the usage of such gadgets to young children, as we’ve heard.
In this day and age however, it’s pretty hard to resist utilizing an iPad for our child’s entertainment.
It’s so convenient and easily awed by kids.
It makes us think, how did our parents manage to keep their cool with us without the magic of such technology back in the day? The answer is simple: there’s soooooo many other ways to keep a child occupied. It just takes……more effort. Hehe.
The reality today is, parents DO resort to the iPad. Whether it becomes detrimental and hazardous, is determined by the extent of screen time given.
Some parents are totally against the idea of screen time, while some are fine with minimal usage. Some parents use it as a distraction in order for their child to stay put during certain periods, such as in the car seat or while dining at a restaurant.
I do allow some screen time for my daughter, with supervision and certain conditions. Nevertheless, I still try to reduce the amount of screen time, day by day.
📱 Allocate a specific amount of daily usage
I read somewhere that you have to be careful of how much access you give your child to the iPad and TV, especially if they are under the age of 2. As a parent, you should set a daily boundary, for example an accumulative total of 30 minutes of screen time only per day. Of course, better if none at all. But sometimes it’s hard to avoid.
📱 Don’t be afraid to say NO
Again, some parents are against the notion of saying the word “No” to their child, because it could be a form of discouragement or may cause the child to be more inclined to rebel.
My take? The word “No” is very important for a child to understand! It’s the way you convey it to your child that will impact his or her reaction. A child needs to understand when an act of theirs could be dangerous or ill-mannered, to deter them from making it a habit. Say “No” with firmness and authority, but always counter this with compliments and words of encouragement when your child does something good.
My point here is, to say “No” when time’s up. If your child has surpassed the daily time limit of screen time, it’s cue that the iPad must be chucked away, no matter how much they beg for it. When I do this to my daughter, she would cry for literally 20 seconds, in which her attention would easily be diverted to something else thereafter. Don’t panic if your child wails and cries; find an alternative solution to shift their focus from the virtual world.
📱 Interactive Screen Time
To make screen time a little less hazardous, sit next to them during screen time. Turn on a phonics song (or any song) and sing along. Talk to them, walk them through the story being told. This way, they gain human interaction and may pick up the words and sounds you make. The human touch will always prevail.
I read that just because a child pays attention to what’s on the iPad or TV, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re learning but just mesmerized by moving colours and animation. Although I do admit, they can still learn a thing or two from the videos and shows they watch.
📱 Observe the Distance
The distance between the screen and your child, that is. Whether it’s the iPad or TV, watching too close in lengthy periods could cause eyesight problems. Make sure there’s always a good distance and that your child gets used to this. Poor eyesight at a young age is definitely not desirable.
📱 Download Games
Rather than just sticking to the conventional YouTube videos, introduce your child to interactive games too. Choose games that instill educational elements like putting together parts of a bus or finding matching colours. Although it’s just tap, drag and drop, it is some sort of sensory training and improves their finger coordination skill. You child will eventually grow to understand the objective of the game and apply it in real life.
📱 Old Fashioned is Still The New
Even with the takeover of technology, we absolutely cannot perish the idea of resorting to the old school ways of parenting — BOOKS! If you are slowly trying to do away with screen time completely (or almost), books is a great alternative. Introduce your children to books which are appropriate and appealing for their age. For the younger age range, pictorial books with one-word texts are ideal. Read the books out loud with different expressions and sounds to get your child tuned in. The key is also to repeat this from time to time, to slowly embed the words and images into your child’s memory.
Another alternative to screen time fun time, is something we all can relate to with regard to our childhood days — outdoor play time! These days, there’s many indoor playgrounds too which serve the same purpose except the ability to provide some Vitamin D sunlight. LOL. Take your children out from time to time to enjoy the messy and dirty realm of the playground, in which they will be able to interact and communicate with other kids as well. It’s good exercise for the kids AND parents too!
📱 Be a Role Model
Leading by example is one of the most effective parenting methods I know. Sometimes it’s not enough just by saying “No!”. When we take the iPad away from our child, make sure that your hands are gadget-free too! I’m guilty of not showing a good example at times. It’s high time we walk in solidarity with our children, to show that survival does not depend on technology alone! Hehe.
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All the best, parents! YES but LESS to screen time! (But if you can avoid altogether, kudos and keep it up!) 🙂