Rationing screentime for children during lockdown

If you are the parent of a young child, I’m sure you will have endured some shrieking and stomping during lockdown when trying to limit screentime.

In our house, this has happened when we have tried to take the iPad away from little C. While we don’t surrender to the three-foot-tall monster in our midst, we worry about how his digital consumption is affecting him.

With H and I both working from home, we are even more conscious of the role of digital in Cyrus’s life. Sure, there’s a part of me that can laugh, but there’s also some guilt and feeling powerless.

WHO recommendations

Recommendations from the World Health Organisation suggested “pre-lockdown” that children under two should not be allowed to watch screens at all. Before Covid-19 hit, the WHO warned that use of screentime could be a contributor to obesity and educational problems. However now that screentime is connecting families and friends globally is it still deemed dangerous for cognitive development?

Bookabees conducted a national survey of parents and children (5-11 years) before lockdown. It revealed that parents acknowledge that using a digital device negatively affects the behaviour of children. 

Survey results

54% admitted that their children were more likely to have a tantrum, meltdown or be more argumentative after using a device. Three quarters of parents said their children experienced a ‘locked on’ syndrome effect after using digital devices.

Aware of the issues related to digital, 65% of UK parents would like their children to spend less time on digital. Interestingly, the research revealed that children were feeling neglected by parents’ use of digital.

73% of 5-11 years olds said that they didn’t like it when parents used their phones when they were meant to be spending time with them. Another 61% of kids said they felt their parents used their phones too much. 

Good or bad, ditching digital for an hour a day gives everyone a new perspective. It also encourages imagination and social interaction.

An hour of quality time with family every day:

Reading

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, more so than their parents’ educational background or income. It is said to be one of life’s great pleasures and our children tend to agree.

Cyrus loves being read to. He says that being read to is one of his most favourite ways to spend time. Reading is a special family bonding time that creates treasured memories. Sadly many parents are distracted by digital devices and just can’t seem to find the time.

Cyrus is certainly more relaxed after reading a book and experiences better sleep. We have also noticed that his vocabulary has improved after reading books.

Take 10 mins to chat about what’s on their mind

Make a wish list of activities you can do at home. Why not create a chart with ideas and drawings created by the whole family. List books and activities for those special family minutes. 

Over dinner you can plan your hour as a way of reminding children of how important this time is.  Making reading a regular activity is a fantastic way to build language and social skills.

Go exploring

Children are curious and always ready to explore. So, join them, become an explorer in your own backyard. Adventures start outside your front door. As adults, we have lost some of that wide-eyed wonder about the outside world which children have. Learn from the young ones. They can teach us the wonders of mini-beasts under rocks. Nature really is all around us. So head for your garden with the kids and see how much you can find.

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