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मंदार शिंदे
Mandar Shinde

Friday, September 15, 2023

Article on Screen Time

Are parents responsible for increasing children's screen time?

If parents don't want any rules or restrictions regarding phone usage and screen time, why would children want them?

Written by Mukta Chaitanya
September 11, 2023

Have you ever noticed how parents easily give phones to their children so that even very young children finish their food quickly, sit in one place without pestering the parents, and don't interfere with the parents’ work and then gradually children get used to the phone? What do most children under the age of ten to twelve do with their mobile phones? They play games. And children above that age go beyond games and start interacting on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook.

If parents don't want any rules or restrictions regarding phone usage and screen time, why would children want them? And who will ensure whether they follow the rules or not? Today, parents do not have as much control as they think they have over what and how reaches their children. Moreover, children imitate their parents when it comes to smartphones. Children learn to use their own phones by watching their parents use smartphones. Children pay close attention to how the adults around them use their phones. Be it chatting on WhatsApp for hours or taking the phone to the bathroom. What and how are parents' internet and smartphone usage habits; they influence the children. So how to face all this is the biggest question in front of the parents. To solve this problem, parents need to consider the following five points.

1) Internet, social media and smartphones are important revolutions of modern times. They are embedded in our existence, an integral part of our existence; they cannot be completely deleted but that does not mean that we should surrender to them and become their slaves. If parents want to worry about their children's screen time, they need to worry about their own screen time first. If their habits change, it can be easier for children to change.

2) Once we become parents, we start believing that all the rules in the world are only for our children and by implementing those rules, we can discipline our children. There cannot be one rule for children and different for parents when it comes to mobile phones. Parents should be disciplined before children are disciplined. Children should be able to see whether their parents' screen time is healthy or not.

3) Children need to see that parents are doing many things beyond the screen, not involving the phone. It should be seen that parents are reading books, exercising, no phone nearby, no headphones, parents are gardening, or doing any of their hobbies. This can increase children's interest in doing offline activities.

4) After going to the hotel, parents and children keep their heads stuck in their phones.. Never do this. Children will only understand that the time we go out together is important when parents or other adults put away their phones and chat with each other and with the children. Let kids see that chatting offline is just as fun.

5) Practise what you preach. As parents we are double tongued, full of hypocrisy. It is usual for us to do the same 'something' in front of children that we don’t want the children to do. We as parents have told ourselves a lie that when we use mobile phones, it is only for work and when the children use mobile phones, it is just a timepass. We desperately keep trying to convince our children as well as ourselves about this… because it is our convenience as parents. But children can see the difference between what you preach and what you practise.

How can we blame the children if they feel that there could be nothing wrong if they did what their parents do and if they start behaving accordingly?

Many parents have a habit of checking their mobile as soon as they wake up in the morning or of constantly checking their mobile every fifteen minutes. Some parents become restless if the range is not available. Some parents are constantly clicking selfies and uploading them on Instagram. Some parents are happy to see the likes and comments they get there. If their happiness is interrupted, they get angry. Some parents put their heads in the phone when they come home from the office, before talking to their children. Some parents turn on the TV while they feed their children and get themselves engrossed in WhatsApp or social media. Some parents pat their children to sleep with one hand, while the other hand is checking the messages. When some parents go on a trip, they spend most of their time watching something on their smartphones. Some parents are constantly gossiping with someone… The list would still be long.

All this is going on in front of the children. Children are watching it. They pick up those habits as much as they can understand. So, before taking care of children's phones, it is better for adults to take care of their own phones!

(Translated by Mandar Shinde)



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