It’s pretty common nowadays to find kids either playing a game or watching their favorite shows on a smartphone. In fact, seeing its popularity, well-known online video streaming giants have launched exclusive kids-only websites! This is a very dangerous trend. Especially with growing instances of abusive online activities like games that challenge kids to fatally harm themselves. And parents, with their busy work schedules and lack of time, feel helpless. However, as parents, we need to step up to help and protect our kids from this harmful habit. To do this, we first need to start reducing their screen time before eventually phasing it out completely. Here are a few ways this can be done:
1. Understand The Content Your Kid Watches
There is a reason why your kid is hooked to the gadget. Is it the activities, presentation, or the music in the videos that have grabbed his/her attention? Or a favorite superhero character? Once you understand this, try and find an alternative. Like, taking your kids out for a fantasy or superhero movie or getting them interactive toys. You can also watch a similar show on TV together since TV shows, though regular, generally last only for a few minutes.
2. Set An Example Yourself
Kids are very quick in emulating adults. They believe if the adults do it, it is probably the right thing to do. Start with setting an example yourself. As a rule, stay away from browsing your phones, laptop or tablets when at home, especially while dining. Once your kids realize the seriousness of this rule, they’ll give it up too.
3. Engage In Other Activities
The best way to engage your kids is to try and involve them in day-to-day activities at home. Involve them in small household errands like setting the dinner table or taking them along to the grocery store. Encourage outdoor activities like playing soccer or going cycling in the neighborhood park. For older kids, encourage them to read books (but not on gadgets).
4. Do Not Gift Gadgets
Parents generally promise a gift to their children as a reward for good behavior. But steer away from gifting gadgets. Instead, get creative with what you give your kids. You can take them out to an amusement park, zoo, or even gift their favorite dress. Basically, anything that’ll add value to their life instead of getting them addicted.
5. Schedule ‘Family Time’ Every Day
Agreed, you have a busy work schedule. But, you can always plan and make your presence a fun time for your family. Begin by setting aside at least one hour with your kids. Play a small board game or take a short walk to the nearby ice cream parlor. You can also make one day of the weekend a ‘family cooking time’ where each member of the family contributes to preparing a full course meal.
6. Monitor The WiFi Access
Irrespective of what the gadget is, it requires the internet for your kids to go online. Refrain from using mobile data, especially if you have slightly older kids. Preferably go for a WiFi modem. Set a time or duration when you think is most appropriate to keep it on. If you notice your kid staring at the screen for a long time, you can always switch the WiFi access off and engage with your kids in some friendly talk or chores.
7. Apply Privacy Settings
This is imperative when you have innumerable gadgets at home. Be it your own smartphone, tabs, home computer, or even your kids’ laptop – most gadgets and apps come with privacy settings. Check and update the privacy settings to block harmful content from reaching your kid. If need be, take professional help from the store where you bought the gadget. You can also check out the gadget’s online help desk to guide you.
We hope that these suggestions come in handy while dealing with your kids’ increasing addiction to gadgets. Like everything else, the internet too has its own set of pros and cons. So, let us help our kids tap its benefits while keeping themselves safe at the same time. All the best!
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