The biggest challenge that all of us are experiencing now a days is our addiction to screens. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, personal computers with a 24 x 7 internet connection has ushered in a lot of advantages and at the same time we are inundated with a plethora of real life problems. Add to that a huge wall mounted device called the television and we have a medley of assorted problems that we grapple with on a daily basis.
As adults, our responsibilities and duties beckon us. We are able to limit our usage and overcome our temptation to check our devices the minute it pings us a message or a mail. But children lack the maturity that we have.
The onus therefore shifts to us parents. We need to make them understand the positive and negative impact of screens. Some simple innovative ways to strike the right balance are also discussed here.
Gain child’s trust and confidence - They need to know why we are doing what we are doing and we need to use kiddie language here. When we gain their support they will not go into a rebellious mode. A rebellious child is bound to satiate its curiosity outside the four walls of the house.
Explaining our intentions to our children -Extremely young children grasp things in a better manner when they are able to relate to what the parent is trying to say. Giving them examples helps to a very great extent. For instance: Why should we avoid eating too many candies and sweets? Excess of anything is bad.
Needs and wants - Gradually explain the difference between needs and wants.We may all want and like a lot of things in the supermarket (and in life) but we don’t actually need them all the time. We only buy things that we need. We use them only when we need them. Now zoom in on the screens. Tell them that all those flickering blinking screens are very good too – just like all those things in the supermarket and our other gadgets. But we must learn to use it when we need it and not as and when we want to or feel like it. Explain terms like addiction using simple language and tell them why it is unhealthy for their mental health.
Make it fun - Create fun poems like :“I am Mogambo – the master of screens. Watching TV makes me feel like a queen It’s fun to sit down for a while and dream, But too much of it makes me angry and mean! !”.Use crayon and sketch pens to write this out on chart paper and mount it near the TV. Create fun two and four line poems along with your children and give it a hummable tune (also their own creation! !) Put up all these witty lines near the devices that they use so that they serve as passive reminders to them.
Seek their co-operation - Seek their total co-operation. Let them select their own TV programs and/or games on other gadgets. Let them decide on the time frame. Allow them to switch it off when the program or game or chat gets over or they have got the information that they were looking for.
Encourage outdoor play and activities - Play an active role in such outdoor activities yourself. A great role model makes a great difference. Let them experience fun in ‘real life’ fully and freely first. Let them derive their own conclusion and realize that the concept of ‘virtual fun’ pales in comparison.
Smile and relax when you see them strike the balance and rejoice when they learn to use screens in an appropriate.