How to make your child stop using mobile phones too much. Let’s call it screen time?
Screen time includes everything, using mobile phones, playing video games, watching TV or squandering time on the laptop. Excess screen time is such a big problem today. Some children’s screen time is very high these days…it ranges from 4 hours to even 10 hours a day.
Parents complain that their children are completely lost. They don’t study, they don’t eat, they don’t interact with family members, the only friends they have are online. They’re just lying in the bed all day, lost in their virtual world. They don’t sleep on time, and it’s all because the child’s life revolves around mobile video games, laptop, and TV. It’s like this screen time has consumed their child, so what can you do?
We’ll first begin with things that you shouldn’t do, things that don’t work and can make the problem even worse. First, requesting. Sometimes you think. If you just be nice to them, if you ask calmly “ please give me the phone back, please don’t use it so much, it’s not good for you” They will someday listen to you and comply. Well, they won’t. Requesting would rarely work for this issue.
The second thing that won’t work is.. testing their will power. Some parents may say, “why should we have to stop the child from using the phone. I want my children to stop on their own. I want to make them responsible. Why should I have to tell them every time? My child must have the will power to leave it by themselves” bad idea. The screen time in itself is so rewarding to the brain, that a child basically won’t be able to stop themselves. It will be very very hard. Don’t put them through this test. They’ll fail and you’ll be disappointed again and again.
Third, nagging/shouting. This is the negative version of requesting…where you just increase the intensity of asking. You either ask too many times “please leave the phone, what are you doing all day? you’ve wasted three hours, when will you study ?… Or you can get angry and say those same things in anger, shouting at the top of your lungs.“Why are you so stubborn? can you just listen to what your parents are saying ? “I’ll break your damn phone if you bring it to the dinner table Again”. These were some of the things that won’t work, so what? here are some suggestions.
First thing, prevention. Don’t even let this habit take roots. If a child is young, like below 12, it’s relatively easier to establish authority and say no for something. Parents often allow children phones, iPads, and laptops to just keep trouble away from them. like if they are busying those gadgets, at least, they won’t create a mess, at least they won’t fight, at least I’ll have some peace of mind” bad idea. Keeping your children away from gadgets gets harder and harder as they grow up and their addiction becomes deeper. It becomes extremely difficult when they are adolescents like above 12.
Habits are formed… and they are big enough to start challenging your authority. So, to all the parents whose children are younger… If you don’t become careful and strict right now, ‘hell is coming’.It’s not pretty. Prevent it. Now how do you actually do it? we’ll tell you about some major techniques that are available.
First, clear rule for screen time; Having a clear rule for how much screen time is accepted in the house is very crucial. For younger children, one to two hours are enough as the children get older, 2 to 3 hours are enough. That’s just a general idea, it will depend on what the child is actually doing at that time, if they are watching good documentaries on Netflix, maybe even 3 hours are okay. But if they are playing video games, even 2 hours are too much. So, taking into account what your child is actually doing, come up with a number, very specific number of hours, which are allowed. And that number must be communicated to the child very clearly and strongly. So if you decide for example 2 hours limit of screen time make it a rule and let them break it.
Second, clean policing. Probably the most successful technique here is, policing, which means, using your authority to say no. Think of their screen time like, they are bringing stuff from other countries into this country. You are the customs officer. For each product, there is a limit to how much you can bring to this country, and if you cross the limit, the customs officer will seize your stuff.No negotiation, No fights. Clean, well-established authority and execution of rules. So, each parent needs to learn to be a good police. This involves, making sure that you’re well-thought-out and rational decisions are executed without abuse or violence and with the least possible harm. And when it comes to screen time, this clean policing must be used instead of requesting, nagging or shouting in anger.
Third, rationale consistent communication. So, you made a rule and you are executing it, but the child doesn’t know why. So it’s your job to communicate everything rationally and consistently. This is another skill that must be learned, you must learn how to make them understand the reasons behind your decisions. So what are the reasons behind cutting down their screen time? There could be many…like preventing addiction, healthy eyes, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, engaging with real people and real things… And those reasons must be communicated in every manner possible calmly, strongly, in short, in detail. Even if they disagree with them, you need to keep telling them. Consistency matters.
We’ll mention one thing, as you introduce clear rules, policing and even rational communication, you’ll get a lot of resistance, a lot of talkbacks, a lot of tantrums. You must keep going forward and learn how to deal with all the rebellion. You cannot accept defeat. When they resist, it’s your turn to learn something, it’s your time to solve that problem, not throw in the towel.
Fourth, replace screen time with better/real activities. You take something away from them, you must give them something back…Some options at least. Buy them toys, comics books, good board games which are social/educational and in nature…Put them in music or dance classes ,take them out,exercise with them,put them in a Sports Academy,have a lot of fun with them, talk to them at least for an hour every day,find ways that they can hang out with their friends, make sure how they sleep full hours…And making sure that they stick to these new better activities will also take a lot of rational communication, but ultimately they will catch on if they find them rewarding which they will. It’s a matter of time again. The spirit of transition will be tough but that’s the way to go.
To summarize, you take their gadgets away, but you make sure to give them something back. And when you take their gadgets away you do three major things. Have a clear rule of limited screen time, execute that rule with full authority with least possible, harm and support all of the above with consistent rational communication, finally do it as early as possible in their childhood. If you don’t do it you’ll probably need a counselor’s help later in life to make that happen. To prevent future by acting today.