Protect your kids: 6 ways how to develop healthy interaction with screens
I am a father of 2 kids. And yes, they are obsessed about technology and I am worried about it. How to save them from a harmful content? How to make them want to spend more time out of the screens? How to protect their health and raise them not only as an intelligent and ethical person towards others, but towards technologies as well? I don’t believe technology itself is a problem for our kids. We, parents, are just not aware about the importance to teach our kids how to use it properly and we forgot, how important it is to give our attention to them, instead of letting screens give that attention.
Here I share few tips for other parents, what helped me to cultivate and develop my kids’ healthy interaction with screens. I am still in this process, but I can clearly see a positive change already.
- If your baby cries – find other ways to distract his/her attention, instead of giving a screen immediately
It is a very common situation among parents to give a screen immediately, when their child starts crying, or when parents want their own time. Then a screen becomes a saviour, which takes all attention of a child and parents can do other activities (cleaning the house, cooking meals, working from home…) I understand, that parents sometimes get exhausted of parenting duties and responsibilities, but have it in mind, that investment which you will make at the beginning, will pay off later on. So my advice would be to hide technology from babies in general and to find it out, what your kids like the most. A particular toy? Colourful lights? Sounds? By which other tools can occupy theirs attention and make them calm down?
- Make it as a rule – no screens during mealtime
Let’s be honest, when we, parents, are working long days and our kids are just as long on their screens, here is no much time left for family members to spend together. Especially if a child is very young, interaction with closest ones is crucial for theirs social, emotional and cognitive development. So implementing a house rule „no screens during mealtime“ will be the first big step towards kids‘ healthy interaction with screens. It will cut theirs time spent on gadgets and increase social skills and emotional intelligence. But first – you must show them with your own behaviour. So adapt the same rule first to yourself. When you have mealtime, give all your attention to your family members and forget all screens, even your phone.
- Limit screen time in a friendly way without your personal intervenience
I am not only a dad at home, but also a policeman, who is always asking for different and very complicated tasks from my kids: put your slippers on, clear your nose, brush your teeth… And also i become a threatening enemy when I say: “turn off the computer, it’s time to bed…” Kids are always trying to stay near the screen as long as possible and I understand it, because it is fun and interacting. Unfortunately, technology can’t help to put on the slippers, neither to clear the nose, but it really can help to turn the computer off in a proper way and proper time without any anger and your interference. How would your child feel and react, if the computer is turned off by a friendly animated character, who before tells: “It is time to go to sleep. You have 10 minutes left to use the computer.” And when 10 minutes passes, your kid sees the same character again, telling “See you tomorrow. Goodnight”. And the computer turns off by itself. Sounds like smooth and easy way to leave the screen, right? And it is possible! New application for parents now allows to do it. By using it, by setting time limits for your kids on PC activity you will be able to become the best story teller before bedtime. Enjoy! 🙂
- No cell phones during bedtime
I bet you have the same issue with your kids, as I used to have, right? They go to sleep, you expect them to be sleeping and when you come to their bedroom to check – they are secretly using their cell phone under the blankets! And next morning it is a challenge to wake them up to school, because they are not rested enough. So this is a clear reason, why you should set one more rule in your parenting style. Kids must know, what is ok to do and what is not, when it’s time for studying, gaming and when it’s time to sleep. Here are two ways how you can manage your kid to go to sleep without using their gadgets in bed: by taking it from them till the morning or by using the same application, which I mentioned above. Blincy app allows you to set the time, when the device is not able to be turned on, so it can be not only during bedtime, but during studies time as well.
- Ensure proper distance and qualitative lightening every time and everywhere your kid is using gadgets. Now it is possible!
It is scientifically proven, that looking at screens of gadgets in a close distance and bad lightning damages the vision (DES – Digital Eye Strain). Well, not so long ago the only way to control the distance was to remind your kid every single minute to step away from the screen. But is it really helping? In addition to that we couldn‘t control the lightning in every space, where our child was using technologies (school, streets…) and the way how they use it, but now here is such a possibility. For now Blincy app for parents allows to ensure a proper distance and qualitative lightening just using PCs, but it is in process of improvement and soon in the future (with support of backers in kickstarter) this function will be available on every device, every software. How it works? For example, in the app parents can set how close to the screen a kid must be and proper light intensity of surrounding environment, in order to use a device. Not matching these criteria, the same animated character will appear in a whole screen and warn a child, that he/she is too close to the device. If they want to continue, they must stay back and keep the safe, healthy distance from the screen. So with Blincy parents can feel sure, that their kids will use gadgets in a proper, healthy way, without any inefficient efforts to repeat the same phrase over and over again.
- Educate your child about the danger of using devices in an inappropriate way
Setting many rules and forbidding kids, without explaining, why is so, doesn’t make sense at all. A kid just will get confused and will not understand, why his parents are not allowing him/her to use technology in a way his/her friend is allowed to use. In a long run it might cause serious psychological issues, such as feeling of being outsider, different than everybody, eventually becoming an antisocial person. To avoid this, educate your kid about the negative consequences, which will come if they use technology in other way than you are asking. Knowledge is a power and by knowing, why a child must act in one way or another, helps him/her to explain that to others and stay motivated to follow your rules.
Summing everything up, the best advice would be simply to develop healthy habits of using technologies from an early age of your kid. The sooner you start setting healthy mindset regarding technologies, the easier it will be to raise your kid as a digitally intelligent, healthy and successful person. And in order to obtain this, restrictions to use technologies is crucial, just as crucial it is to explain, why these restrictions are set. Your kid might not like it (and most likely they won’t) and even hate you for that, but I am sure, later they will be grateful, the same as many of us now, that we are older, are so much thankful for our parents.