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Managing screen time for your kids this holiday

 Managing screen time for your kids this holiday (Photo: iStock)

It has become almost impossible to survive in this digital world without a phone. Everywhere you turn someone is holding up a device.

And our kids are no different.

If anything, nowadays kids will request the latest phones when given the option to pick a birthday or Christmas gift they would want.

And although we know the negative effects of too much screen time on our physical, mental and emotional health, we still struggle with putting our phones down.

So where do you begin? For starters, act like a parent and take back control.

As your child’s primary caregiver, you must establish habits and behaviours that lead to less time spent on these distractions.

Here is how you can set limits and access to how much time your kids spend on electronics:

Let them earn it

In this day of instant gratification, kids are always headed down whatever they need without earning it. Parents are guilty of buying things just because their kids asked for them.

Let them do some chores before using any gadget. This way, they will grow up understanding that nothing in this life is free and you must work for what you want.

You could also allow them to use it only if what they’re doing is productive and simply not purely entertainment.

Set rules

Take up your role as the parent and set boundaries and rules they have to stick to. Share this information with relatives and nannies to ensure this is enforced everywhere your child goes to help instil control and healthy electronic use.

And just because you’re busy or you feel guilty for letting them down, don’t be a pushover.

Set time limits for usage, decide on which days they can and can’t use them, set no screen time zones like at the dining table, no TV at the bedroom and only age-appropriate content is allowed.

Be an example

You are your child’s first teacher and must model positive digital habits they can mimic. You don’t expect your kids not to throw tantrums and beg for gadgets when you binge on your favourite Netflix series and scroll through your phone every moment you get.

When they see you reading or engaging in conversation with your spouse or older kids chances are, they will model that behavior.

Offer alternatives

When kids are bored the easiest distraction tends to be Candy Crush on their phones or video games. Please direct them to healthier alternatives like taking them to the park to play, skipping rope or reading a book.

Encourage them not to become reliant on electronics for entertainment but give them alternatives they can still enjoy and if possible, get involved in those activities as well.

Help them understand

The same way you teach your child how to safely cross the streets, what to do when they’re approached by a stranger and why they shouldn’t eat too much candy, is the same energy you should apply to help them understand the dangers of continuous screen time, online safety and how it can interfere and affect their sleep, meal times and social skills.

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