Technology is a marvelous thing – it’s connecting us to the whole world and we have almost everything handed to us in a click of a button. But, there are always two sides of the same coin. While we’ve moved light years ahead in terms of growth and development with the help of technology, we are also taking a few steps back.
We are addicted to our gadgets and feel empty when we are not using them. This has made us more anti-social and not as productive as we ought to be in our daily lives. This dependency on gadgets like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and TVs are even more prominent in kids and is extremely harmful for them in the long run.
It’s a good thing to introduce your children to new things, but one should also monitor the usage of gadgets. Too much screen time can be harmful for kids in the following ways.
Although a TV, a laptop or a mobile phone can keep your child engaged for hours, it will not have any benefits for his physical health. Long hours in front of the screen increases the chances of fatigue, eye problems, heart ailments and insomnia in children. Radiation from these gadgets can cause low bone density and hinder normal growth and development in babies and toddlers. The fact that they are not playing any outdoor games will make them physically unfit and can also lead to obesity.
When we want to avoid talking to someone or just want to be on our own, we hide ourselves in the virtual world. This slowly isolates us from the people we know and it is the same with kids as well. Because they are not able to handle real-life situations due to their addiction, they are prone to fall into depression or have anxiety and stress related problems.
A child who is addicted to his gadgets will often be seen not performing well in school. It is because he has no time or interest in his academics and would rather just play games on a mobile phone or tablet.
Your child may be addicted to his gadgets but that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. There are many ways to rectify his behaviour and it has to start with you:
Children are extremely impressionable and they will imitate what they see. If they see that you are on your phone or your laptop for hours and hours, they will think it’s okay for them to do the same. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you should constantly find ways to increase your screen time. Until you set an example, your kids will not follow. Start off with a few simple rules like ‘no cellphones’ during the meal times.
Have you ever thought about why your child seems so aloof and distant? Have you wondered why he is so addicted to his gadgets? It may be because he feels like you don’t understand him. This misunderstanding makes him talk to you less and less and more addicted to gadgets. Pay attention to your child, ask him about his day and interests. Find out what he likes and dislikes doing. Engage in healthy talks and games to distract him from screen time
A very good way to keep your kids away from the screen is to include him in all sorts of activities. Introduce the joys of reading to him or teach him a new sport. If you live in a hot city, take him swimming. Help him discover his artistic side or his musical one. Buy board games and keep his mind fresh and active.
As a parent, it is your duty to enforce some strict rules. Find a huge box to store all your gadgets. Allot different time slots in the day to make it “Gadget Free Hours”. Keep all your gadgets in the box (of course, your TV won’t fit into it, so just keep it turned off) and do anything else. You can talk, have tea, exercise, or just help your child with this homework during this time.
Another great way to keep your child’s mind off from the virtual world is by bringing him closer to the real world. Get your child be involved in the whole cooking process; starting from grocery shopping. Let him choose the vegetables and make him feel like he is in control. You can ask him to wash the vegetables before you chop them. Let him add the salt and pepper. This will make him feel like he is contributing to meal time. This process will not only keep your baby away from gadgets, it will also make him a healthy eater.
You can start by talking to your child about the dangers of his gadget addiction but there are high chances that he will just ignore what you say. As ironic as this may sound, show your child videos of what a gadget addiction can do to him, including videos of gadgets exploding due to overuse.
Monitor what your child does online regularly. Make sure you approve of the videos he’s watching or the games he’s playing. If these videos and games are too violent, questionable, sexually laden or not age appropriate, confiscate the gadget immediately or restrict access to these videos and games.
Much like adults, the first thing that kids do these days is to reach out for their mobile phones or tablets. Give your child an interesting breakfast to look forward to every day. This way he won’t care about his screen time. Along with innovative breakfasts also make some innovative drinks like chocolate or vanilla flavoured powder boosters in milk or if you are looking for an extremely nutritious option, choose PediaSure.
Taking away everything from your child at one go will make him sad, angry and will most definitely lead to a tantrum. Remember that children are extremely stubborn and you need to proceed carefully, otherwise they may act out in other ways.
Children take a lot of time to learn or unlearn something, whether it is a good behaviour or a bad one. Praise your baby when he goes hours without using any of his gadgets but never say hurtful words when he doesn’t. Don’t shout or yell at him, because kindness always works better. Be careful with your choice of words and don’t expect changes to happen overnight. Give yourself and your child a chance and time to grow.
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