Children spend hours watching their favourite TV programs and it is becoming increasingly difficult to unplug them from this habit. What started as a means of keeping the child occupied for a while is now occupying most of their time. Children don’t go outdoors to play anymore or indulge in any other indoor games. They just stay glued to the television.
It is important to unplug our kids from the TV and help them have conversations, build relationships, and use their imaginations, play, sing, interact, read together. We need to set consistent limits on when children can watch TV and how much screen time they can have.
As parents, we struggle to balance the benefits of modern technology with the problems associated with it. Children seem to be spending less and less time outdoors and more time watching TV. The programs on TV seem more exciting and it can become very difficult to pull our kids away from healthier activities.
Exposure to excessive screen time is in fact associated with attention and learning problems, it lowers academic performance, obesity and negative behaviour in children.
Here are some tips to help unplug kids from the TV:
- Be there for your children:
Let them know how much you cherish family values by bonding and doing things together. They will automatically explore all the time you can give them by involving them in activities like doing small chores at home, and this would reduce their TV time.
- Choose the right TV shows for them to watch:
Parents should take time to figure out what shows are appropriate for their children. The content should be appropriate for the kid’s age. Pick shows that are of a shorter duration. Encourage them to watch educational programs.
- Encourage children to go out and play:
In order to help your child be more aware of the outside world, you need to give them opportunities to explore their community. Plan outdoor activities, this will teach the kids new skills. Biking, swimming, sports or camping are all great options.
- Don’t be too rigid; instead, encourage them to pursue their hobbies:
Instead of being too rigid, be part of all their activities. Give them a lot of paper, art material, and let them paint, draw or make crafts using their imagination. Once you expose your kids to a variety of hobbies, it’ll be encouraging to see what emerges and where their talents really lay.
- Spend quiet time outside:
By spending time with the sights and sounds of nature your child will learn to appreciate nature and this is very engaging for the brain of a child. Make a habit of taking a daily or weekly walk around your neighbourhood. Or, visit a lake or a park and hike around it.
Not all activities have to be done outdoors. Encourage your kids to read. Besides opening the door to different worlds, the benefits of reading usher in better speech skills, reading comprehension, logical thinking and more. Encourage them to read aloud, from a book or a comic. Take your children to a local library.
- Assign home chores:
Encouraging children to do small chores at home will help them unplug from the TV. They will learn to be responsible and if incentives are given, children will love to do more. The chores can be like, clearing their toys, setting the table for lunch or dinner or helping with making their beds.
- Schedule TV time:
Save the morning hours for imaginative activities because that’s when minds are sharper. When it comes to allowing TV time, the afternoon is best. This is when the sun is at its hottest and children have already exhausted themselves. A little relaxation is then good.
TV time and time in the real world should be well-balanced. Be consistent, but not rigid in your rules. There might be days where a movie might run a little long or a new video game may make stopping difficult. If you have been limiting screen time, there can be a few occasional “treat” days thrown in. The goal is to have healthy habits become a daily routine for your child and your family.