Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much For Your Kids?

The lockdown has kept us all on our toes and got us all anxious. We asked experts to answer how much screen time is too much and how to protect our children’s eyes at times like these.  
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The lockdown has kept us all on our toes and got us all anxious. Parents are learning how to deal with working, keeping children mindfully engaged and finishing chores while everyone is home every day. Parents are also learning how to deal with mental pressure, which was never given a thought before. But the one question every parent is asking is if it is ok to accept the increase in screen-time in your our child's life? 

At Kidsstoppress, we have come across many debates and we have also spoken to many experts about how technology is a 21st-century skill.  But how do we decide what is too much screen time at times like these? How should we protect our children's eyes from the added screen time on their schedule? At what age is e-learning ok?

Scroll down to know what we found out from experts and research.

 

Why Has Screen Become So Important For Children?

When kids aren’t given the psychological nutrients they require, they are more likely to overdo unhealthy behaviors, often in virtual environments. Technology isn’t the source of the problem, and enforcing rules around tech usage isn’t the solution. Rather, we must understand the root causes of children’s unhealthy relationship with technology if we are going to effectively help them overcome distraction.

Instead of blaming technology and unplugging it at all times for children, here's what we need to do, according to Nir Eyal:

1. Autonomy

Give children freedom over choices is actually a good thing. Instead of the adult enforcing strict rules on screen time, help your kids create their own boundaries. The goal is to get them to understand why their screen time should be limited. The more you make decisions with them, as opposed to for them, the more they may be willing to listen to your guidance. 

2. Competence

If a child isn’t doing well in school and doesn’t get the necessary support, they may start to believe that achieving competence is impossible. Kids turn to potentially unhealthy outlets to experience the feeling of growth and development. They stop trying and resort to technological distraction. Games and apps fill the void.

Reconsider the importance of structured academic or athletic activities, as well as the pressures and expectations surrounding them. Have a discussion with your kid about what they enjoy doing, and encourage them to pursue it in ways that give them a feeling competence.

3. Relatedness

Make sure you give your child time to interact with other kids. Free play, without the direction of parents, coaches, and teachers, gives them the opportunity to connect and relate to peers. If they don't find relatedness offline, don't be surprised if they go looking for it online.

Is Online Learning Beneficial Or Works Against Us?

We spoke to Dr. Sameer Dalwai, a Developmental Paedriatician about how screen time is affecting kids and how parents can help.

Benefits of online learning and screen time 

Kids are not addicted to screens, they are using it as a distraction. Nothing is wrong with those things as long as you use it on your own schedule – Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked and Indistractible

  • Online learning is the solution to regression in school. It has an advantage where we can rewind necessary fragments of concepts and listen to it often until the child understands the issue. This will be a great opportunity where schools will rely on ready curated content instead of reinventing the wheel every time. 
  • Yuval Noha Harari is a philosopher and a professor and he mentioned that times have changed from when we were in school and he emphasized how much people need to keep learning and keep changing even though change is very stressful. Reinventing is the key even though it is tough to do. So wouldn't online learning and technology mean the new reinvention? 

With the current scenario, I think I have to accept online classes but also be deligent about which classes truly require kids to be online and what can be pre-recorded learnings in order to cutdown on overall screen time. – Shrima Rai – Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle, Mommy Blogger 

Disadvantages That Come With Online Learning

  • Middle school and high school children need to find a balance of online and offline learning. But are schools helping parents to find the right balance? 
  • Children will be more susceptible to cyberbullying because they will have more access to screens and apps. 
  • An overdose of screentime will strain your child's mind. 
  • Experts like Luke Coutinho and Dr. Sameer Dalwai equate screen time addiction to narcotics and explain how it silently harms our children. 

Screentime is designed to get addicted. It gives you a dopamine rush. When you take away the dopamine rush, children feel deprived. Just like drugs. I am against giving screen time when children are bored – Luke Cutinho 

Fatema Agarkar, xxxx , speaks to us how Online school is the new normal and tips for parents to homeschool.

How Would Added Screen Time Affect Your Child's Eyesight?

  • From a pure eye point of view, (not taking into account the effect of content being watched), we tend to blink less often while we are looking at a screen. Reduced blink rate leads to greater evaporation of tears, and increased dryness in the eyes. Also, by looking constantly at a screen we are doing continuous near work, which can lead to the development of eye strain.  
  • Dryness of the eyes can manifest as heaviness felt in the eyes, itching, scratchiness, eyes feeling constantly tired, and at times even a reflex increase in watering from eyes. In children at times, the only symptom might be that they are rubbing their eyes more often. In more severe forms the eyes can get red and sensitive to light. Use lubricants.
  • Eye strain can show up as eye pain, headaches, and sometimes even a temporary change in your eye power. Apply the 20-20-20 rule. 
  • Make sure there is proper lighting. 
  • Try to use bigger screens
  • Ensure a healthy diet with fruits, green leafy vegetables, and a lot of water. 
  • Try to ensure your children don’t rub their eyes too much. If the dryness is bothering them it would be a good idea to start lubricating eye drops. Once they get into the habit of rubbing the eyes, it can introduce infection into the eyes and can even lead to conjunctivitis. 

As we move towards a new normal, an incerased dependence on screen is going the be the norm across all age groups. If we don't take the necessary precautions, our kids' eye health will suffer, and eye problem will be on the rise – Urmi –   Ophthalmologist, Cataract surgeon and a Medical Retina specialist. 

What Should The Position Of The Device Be Like?

  • Put the device on a table and not the lap. The screen should be preferably 10 to 30 degrees below the eye level so there is no strain to the neck.
  • The distance from the screen should 1 1/2 to 2 feet and the back should be upright. 
  • Avoid the hunch and the back has to be straight. 
  • Younger kids have a habit of drifting closer to the screen over time. Parents should supervise. 

What is the ideal time?

  • Ideally a session should be 20 to 30 mins at a stretch. We should encourage the children for a 10 min break where the child moves away from the screen. 

1 hour of an online session can help my child to learn something new, which can even dwell in their minds throughout the day. This isn't bad at all. I support online learning. – Priyanka Panwar 

Not all screen time is bad. We advice parents to take the right step and see what suits you. We are in extremely uncertain times, so don't be harsh on yourself and keep it balanced. How long do your kids watch and do you monitor their screen time?

 Do write to us on contribute@kidsstoppress.com 

Stay tuned for more such articles on parenting on Kidsstoppress.com.

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