There are instances when you hear a song on radio in the morning and ended up singing it all day long, or you watch a scary or disturbing movie and lose your sleep at night. There are so many TV series which make you cry or laugh. Can you see the impact of screens in our lives? Yes, it’s HUGE! So much so that what we see and what we hear has slowly (but surely) shaped our thought process. And if this is the case for us adults, IMAGINE THE KIND OF IMPACT IT HAS ON OUR CHILDREN.

Considering the fact that maximum brain development occurs by age 5 to 6 year, watching or hearing at this age will shape their entire future. Children in small age group have a lot of free time and it becomes next to impossible to keep them occupied at home.

Keeping your child away from mobile and TV is one of the biggest struggles you might be facing as a parent. The amount of programming choices available these days can be overwhelming and can easily overtake your child's life if you let it. Research has shown that overexposure to TV can lead to obesity-related problems and violent unpredictable behavior in children. But at the same time, if used productively, TV can help your child gain knowledge about the world that cannot come from his school books alone.

Arts & Craft: So as a parent you will have to find a sweet spot between overexposure and no TV at all. There are many ways in which you can limit your child's exposure to these devices. Make art supplies available to your children in a special place in your home. Let them have free reign of these materials to make crafts, paint, color, or write imaginative stories. On occasion, sit down together and do creative activities that involve the whole family. That way, kids will see these activities as fun rather than a sad replacement for television

Physical activities: You know how important regular exercise is for health and wellness. Counteract the couch potato syndrome by getting your kids up and moving. Take a Frisbee out into the yard. Lace up your trainers and walk to a nearby park. It may also be fun to run a kids’ “exercise boot camp” on the weekend. Getting your children involved in sports at school or in the community is also a great way for them to stay active. Being active also lessens the amount of time they have to spend watching TV.

Outdoor Adventures: Start a fun family tradition of going on a picnic, hike, or other outdoor adventure every few weeks. When the whole family is having fun outside the home, kids won’t miss the TV. Plan exciting outdoor adventures in your local community, such as a treasure hunt in the park, a festival, or a tour of a nearby museum.

Family time: Time spent with parents and siblings is rich and enjoyable. Your kids will soon learn this as they spend more time away from TV and mobile. Another way to promote non-screen time is by scheduling a family game night. Take a vote on which board game to play and have at it. Make sure you select games that are appropriate for all of your children.

Restricted Screen Timings: It may be wise for both parents to sit down together and decide how much screen time is appropriate for the entire family. Your "screen time" covers all devices, such as phones, tablets, and computers. Make sure you are reducing your time on all these devices to model healthy habits for your kids. It’ll look like you’re cheating if you have access to the TV at all times. If you want to really make things fair and square, remove the TV from all bedrooms, yours included. Screens (including tablets and laptops) should only be available in common areas like the kitchen or family room. Aim to be more intentional about your TV use. Think about which programs you like the most and watch only those. Press the “Power” button afterwards.

Pornography is scary for parents. Children are too young for porn and what the porn films show are constructed, and not natural. The best thing you can do is to filter out inappropriate content. Help them understand that porn is nothing but a deviance.

Responsibilities: Children above five years of age can participate in decision-making. It makes them feel competent. So, do give those choices and responsibility. Sometimes, your child may say, “I don’t set any time limits for you, then why should I be restricted by timings?” This happens when there is a power struggle. If they are rebelling, find out the reason. Find ways to give them power when necessary. Most of the time, it happens because they are corrected in the wrong way. They do not mind being corrected but what they do not like is the way they are corrected. The tone of voice and framing of the words are very important.

Actions have consequences: Discuss the technology and the guidelines with your child. Work it out together and frame a few rules on its usage. If your child breaks a rule, tell her that she has to face the consequences. Let your child suggest a punishment for herself. She can decide what privileges to give up. Allow her to break the rules and face consequences. She will grow out of it soon, and realize that it is not worth fighting over. Involve your child in problem-solving as she is competent and knowledgeable enough to do so.

Everything in moderation is a mantra that we must all live by. This applies to your child and the TV as well. It may not be possible to cut your child's screen time completely, as it is not practically possible nor advisable to do so. But you can still try to set a cap on it. Steer children away from unlimited TV time and towards other more fruitful activities so that they have a holistic development. You can apply the same set of rules to any screen that children are exposed to like laptops or even mobile phones.

Shashank Shriram Joshi

Nashik Sports And Fitness Academy

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