We all spend a little too long looking at screens. It’s inevitable, in a sense. So much of life is now found online. It is often the grumble of the older generation that people are now constantly looking at their phones, but there’s a good reason for that. Our entire lives can be on our phone. They are now our Filofax, our life management systems, how we connect with our doctors, portals that allow us to socialize with our friends, make plans and even sometimes (shockingly!) make phone calls - it’s not inane to be on your phone. It’s a vital part of modern life.
The above is true of adults, at least - but should it be true of children?
On some levels, the argument is a flat no - some parents don’t believe their kids should have any access to screens of any nature. Others go the opposite way, and say it’s nonsense, allowing their kids to spend as long looking at their phone as they choose. The truth is found somewhere in the middle; screen exposure is not an inherently bad thing, so long as it’s in moderation.
Many parents have struggled with the balance for what could be considered moderation. Kids like to use their phones the way that adults do, so it can almost feel hypocritical to be trying to part them from their screens. However, one of the benefits of parenting is being able to lean on the tried and tested: “do as I say, not as I do”!
Encourage A Hobby
There’s so many different hobbies available to children that it’s almost impossible to list them, but encourage your kids to experiment until they find one they like (and gaming, for this purpose, doesn’t really count).
Ideally, a physical hobby would be great, but it can be time-consuming if you have to go with them. Look for things like building model plane kits or any form of craft; it’s a little bit old school, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it.
Try A Sport
Both in terms of playing and watching, encouraging your child into loving a sport can be rewarding. Of course, the watching would ideally be in person by attending matches or events, which can even be made into family fun. It could be the next March Madness that encourages your kids to take an interest, or something more broad like taking a trip to attend CONCACAF Gold Cup games to see how the USA do. Whatever it is, attending a big event is a great way to separate eyes from screens and make memories the whole family can enjoy.
Set A Limit
If given the chance, kids - like adults - will stare at the TV or their phones until something more interesting comes along. This means half the time we’re not watching something we actually love; we’re doing it because it’s there. If you give your kids one hour of TV time, they will use it to engage with something they actively care about rather than just whatever is available. This way, all screen time is ultimately productive, even if it’s just in the sense that they enjoy it more.
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