If being locked up at home takes a toll on us adults, imagine how hard it must be for kids, who are used to playing outside and seeing their classmates. Apart from the regular walks to the park and the fun activities we plan for them, there are hours when children get bored — and how easily they get bored when they can’t go outside!
Although we have all the time in the world to go on a summer holiday or road trip, we really need to stay home.
And so the kids will always find a way to keep themselves amused. One minute you see them doing crafts like little angels, and the next you witness them reach out for the tablets. It’s crazy how screen time skyrockets during lockdown.
But no one could blame the kids. At this point, it’s their way of connecting to the outside world. It’s their health we are worried about. Less outdoor time and more time hunched over phones make kids prone to myopia. And we don’t want a few months of lockdown to impair their eyes forever.
Here’s a system to reduce their screen time (as much as possible), so their eyes won’t sustain any long-term damage.
Step 1: Set a Schedule
This is a trick that works for younger kids and toddlers. They’re more likely to follow instructions when they’re embedded in a sort of routine, like a daily schedule of what to do and what not to do. Just like how kids are supposed to eat dinner at say, 7PM, they know to turn off the screen and put away the tablets.
For example, the kids would only get two hours of screen time, starting at 5PM (best when you’re busy making dinner, so they won’t be in the way of meal prep).
Open for negotiations? It’s up to you, but consistency is very important to make kids respect the boundaries of time. Negotiations often show that the schedule and the rules are flexible, and they will (trust me, they will) always find loopholes. Stand your ground.
Step 2: Distract Them with Other Activities
You can see how action-packed days will keep the TV and tablets away from their minds all day long. Whether that’s a trip to the beach, a fishing charter or a get-together with the extended family, kids won’t find the need to log into the digital space if they’re enjoying what’s in front of them.
The challenge falls upon us parents to fill their days with activities that would not only take them away from the screen, but also keep their mind and body engaged.
Here are some ideas:
- Let Them Join in on the Kitchen Action – There are lots of videos of toddlers helping out their moms in the kitchen, and our kids can do that, too. It’s the perfect way to introduce them to cooking and baking, without making them look like a chore.
- Play Treasure Hunt – If you have extra time on your hands, play a little treasure hunt with your kids. This will force them to work together to get a special prize — maybe more fairy bread or chocolate snacks?
- Do a Backyard Picnic – Nothing is better than making little tea sandwiches and eating them with the family on a lazy weekend in your backyard. It’s a holiday that costs absolutely nothing.
For parents, peeling kids off the screen is a daily challenge. But we want our kids to have the best time without damaging their eyes. So don’t run out of ideas to keep them happily engaged off-screen.