Do your children also stare at screens longer than you would like? You are certainly not alone. And even though those screens also bring with them very well, it is still useful not to let the screen time increase too much. Here are five practical tips to cut down.
The British organization Ofcom estimates after research that the screen time for 3- and 4-year-olds has increased to 3 hours a day. For children between 8 and 11 years, it is even 4.5 hours a day. The Corona pandemic has contributed significantly to the increase, during lockdown the screen was often the only way to get in touch or follow the school hours.
Stimulate the senses
Looking at a screen is quite passive: you watch and listen to a screen, but often there is no interaction. This ensures that other senses such as touch, smell or taste are not used. This can cause problems if your child really spends too much time with a screen in front of him. It can even lead to sleep problems, concentration problems and poor self-esteem.
But the biggest problem with long screen time is that it takes away from other useful activities: playing outside, exercising, playing with friends, and sleeping. Therefore, it is good to take a closer look at your child’s screen time and see if you can cut it down. Start with these five simple steps:
1. Set an alarm clock
This sounds simpler than it is: Try to get your child out behind a screen. Especially now that screens are almost always portable, in the form of a tablet or phone. Talk to your children about the time they are given and why it is time to do something else after that.
You can set a limit for certain apps on many devices. When the time has elapsed, you will receive a message that the limit has been reached. Tip: You can also choose to make the set time a little shorter each time instead of cutting down almost all screen time at once. Can they get used to it a bit!
2. Screen-free zone
Create a screen-free zone in your home. As with time limits, it’s about setting boundaries. It can feel like you can not get around screens with TVs, phones and tablets in the house. Choose a room or part of the room, for example the dining table, play corner or another part of the house where screens are prohibited.
You can choose to have this rule apply throughout the day or between certain times. In this way, you ensure that there are clear rules and that the children are less likely to grab a screen out of habit. Then of course it is important that you also stick to the screen-free zone …
3. Start a new hobby
Choose a new hobby together. It does not have to cost a lot of time and money, it can be very simple: Become the very best at board games, bake delicious cakes or read a stack of books. Not only fun and educational, it also provides extra quality time with your family.
For the little ones, you can go crazy with creative hobbies such as painting or crafts. It is also good for creativity!
4. Get out there!
This may seem obvious, but spending time outdoors is the best way to escape all of these screens. The fresh air and exercise will do everyone good and help you all sleep better at night. Make it a real family outing by taking a nice walk or playing a game in the garden or park.
Is it raining a little? Let it not stop you. Put on a rain suit and boots and you have the greatest fun!
5. Turn off background noise
Turn off your monitors when you are not looking at them. When your kids are just playing, their attention is drawn to a sound from the television: a shame! Make the screen time active and targeted and make sure to leave the screens further out. Of course, a piece of music is always possible, but only use the speakers or the radio.
do it together
If you want to lower your kids’ screen time, do not use it as punishment or make it feel that way. Try to explain why it is good to do other things too, so that your children themselves understand it. Do this together so you all benefit from it!
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