Children as young as six months old are often given a smartphone or tablet to watch cartoons or videos of nursery rhymes and other songs for kids. Most parents do this to introduce the concept of music to their child and encourage them to sing along to the tunes, thereby helping them to build their verbal skills.
When the children get older, many parents allow them to use mobile devices so that they can play educational games, watch informative videos, or stay entertained.
Although parents may have the best intentions for doing this, allowing children unlimited access to a mobile device is not the smartest thing to do. It is a practice that does nothing good for their overall health.
As a parent, you have to know that there are better sensory activities for preschoolers that can help them develop various skills, meet the expected milestones, and allow them to learn and have fun at the same time.
Keep in mind that if you permit them to spend hours glued to the small screen, they will experience various negative effects that can be hard to reverse or manage.
Stress-Free Ways to Cut Down Your Child’s Screen Time
Getting toddlers to reduce the time they spend playing games or watching videos on their mobile devices can be quite tricky, especially if they have turned these activities into habits.
However, there are ways for you to reduce their screen time effectively without too much fuss and struggle. Below are some of the most helpful tips and strategies:
1. Prepare plenty of fun alternatives to screen-based activities
The first days you spend beginning to reduce your toddler’s screen time will no doubt be a struggle. Your little one will constantly ask to borrow your smartphone or tablet. Her pleas may quickly turn into tantrums if you don’t give in to her requests.
Help your toddler forget her desire and dependence on using a mobile device by planning different activities for the day. Do simple things such as playing in your garden or using some board games you have. Work on some projects with your child as well to allow her to experience the benefits of art for children.
If your child is already going to nursery, bring her to a nearby park or her favorite restaurant after her classes.
Make sure you plan plenty of activities daily so that your toddler won’t fall back into the habit of asking to borrow your mobile devices. Also, avoid doing the same things every day since this could cause your child to get bored quickly.
Additionally, try to choose games and exercises that allow your little one to use all her senses so that she can hone them and develop more skills.
By preparing a variety of activities, you can ensure your little one is always engaged and having fun, thereby enabling her to forget using a mobile device for entertainment.
2. Set a schedule
Aside from planning different activities for your child to do, create a timetable for doing them.
With a schedule, you will know exactly what activity to give your toddler. If she asks what she can do after lunch, simply consult your list and you will have a ready answer, such as read a book or go for a walk in the park.
If you don’t have a schedule, you will likely ask your toddler to do something that she has already done earlier or several times in the past days. Moreover, if you haven’t prepared any activities at all, you might give your child your smartphone to keep her occupied while you think of some new games.
A schedule will also help you and your toddler with limiting her screen time if you plan on letting her use a mobile device for a number of minutes every day.
3. Set a limit for device use
Whether you let your toddler play an educational game on your mobile device or watch an informative kiddie show on TV or your computer, set how long she can do so. This means letting her do this for a specific number of minutes only every day.
Limit their screen time to an hour per day. Additionally, choose the games they will play and the content they will watch.
Try to co-watch with your child as well. Talk to your toddler about what is happening, the feelings of the characters, and why you think a certain scene is good or bad. Take this viewing schedule as an opportunity to teach your little one to understand emotions and build some key social skills.
Ensure that you put your toddler’s viewing or mobile device use on your timetable, strictly follow it, and inform her of this schedule. By doing so, you will prevent your little one from asking for some extra screen time. You can also use a timer to remind you and your child when to turn off the TV or gadget.
4. Be a role model
Children, especially young ones, learn by imitation. If you are constantly glued to your smartphone, don’t expect your toddler to reduce their screen time easily.
Because of this reason, get involved in whatever activity you have planned for your little one. Play outdoors and create works of art with your toddler. Aside from reading stories with your child, let her see you reading a book often as well.
Additionally, during mealtimes, avoid bringing out your smartphone, even if you are expecting an urgent call or message. Keep the kitchen or dining area a tech-free zone, especially when everyone is at the table.
By doing so, you let your child know that family time is more important and fun than being glued to a screen.
Tech-free family mealtimes will also help your child develop healthy eating habits and good social skills.
Reducing your toddler’s screen time can certainly be challenging. But if you follow these tips and remain patient, you will be successful in minimizing your child’s reliance on gadgets for entertainment. And this will help you support your little one’s health and normal development.
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