According to UNICEF research, at the global level, it is estimated that one in three children aged 3-18 years use internet between 3 – 6 hours per day. The digital era (21st century) that promised to revolutionizing how we do things, has quickly became a nightmare for parents who are struggling day in and day out to drag their children away from screens and increase their social interactions.
The addiction to screen time started slowly as more parents were discovering that when they put cartoons for their children in their phones, tablets, computers or TVs the children became calm and parents can get on with other responsibilities. What was unforeseeable at the time, was the addiction to screens and the antisocial behavior shown by our children today.
What if I tell you, there are strategies that you can implement to ease this parenting frustration?
To reverse this deportment, we have to start at the beginning and ask ourselves if they are not on screens, what should be the best alternative use of their time? The following 5 parenting strategies can shed light to parents on how they can reduce their children’s screen time;
1. Candid conversation
Have a candid conversation with your child about internet and what responsible internet usage looks like. If you do not have the capacity to engage your child in such conversations get someone else to do it for you, but it is high time parents and caregivers invest in developing MEDIA LITERACY skills and protect their children against exposures that comes with internet usage.
2. Screen time Policy
Make your child write his/her own screen time policy. For accountability and ownership your child need to be the author of the screen time policy, discuss it with him/her and decide together screen free areas example dinner table and screen free times within the house. The policy should go further to propose rewards and punishment in cases of breach of the policy.
3. Screen time policy enforcement
Ensure you enforce the punishment or reward on policy as warranted. A policy is a policy therefore makes sure all the time no exceptions the rewards and punishments are enforced as agreed.
4. Become more interesting than the screens
Have a plan for the free time. Create new hobbies like reading books, playing football or just spending quality time with your child during the screen free time that you have created. You have to become more interesting than the screens for your child to want to spend time with you so be creative.
5. Walk the talk
Role-model the less screen time behavior for your children. This is where you parents and guardians are coming in. You have to set an example and walk the talk. You cannot be on your screen and order kids to be off screens.
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