It’s amazing how easily our children can learn how to use sophisticated, smart digital devices such as the iPhone and iPad. As parents, we can take pride in the technology skills our children are developing while recognising the need for reasonable controls to prevent digital addiction.
Here are some strategies you can use to find that healthy balance. These are adopted from helpguide.org along with tips from parents of students at Lorna Whiston.
7 Ways to Reduce Digital Overuse by Your Child
Limit screen time
Many parents don’t allow access to devices during the week, and most tend to limit screen time to 10-30 minutes per session. Set an alarm and take the device away when the time is up.
Create “device free” zones
Experts strongly recommend banning devices during meals and close to bedtime. While letting your child watch a video may make car trips more peaceful, it’s better to turn off digital screens. Children learn from watching the scenery, breathing fresh air, and using their imagination.
Replace screentime with other activities
Mr Wong has his children do puzzles, trace, draw, and colour, which are old school types of entertainment. "That helps to distract them from the devices". Mr Seet, another parent of two, also suggests encouraging conversation and other forms of play. “Sometime we do get into little struggles, but as parents we try our best to set the pace".
Serve as a good role model
Children learn from their parents, so be aware of the example you’re setting. “You can’t punish your kids for breaking the rules when you can’t put your own devices down,” says Delaney Ruston, director of “Screenagers", a film about Internet addiction in teens.
Use technology to regulate technology use
Install apps that limit your child’s data consumption and allow use only during certain times of the day. Look into the Someline Apple Tree App, which was developed by Singaporean students to encourage face-to-face interaction. The app rewards users with digital apples that “grow” when children set their phones down and do something else.
Talk to your children about their device use
What are they doing on their smartphones? Why do they want to retreat into the digital world? Are they having problems at school? Is something in their lives causing stress? Overuse of smart devices can simply be a 21st century way of running away.
Consider a “digital detox”
Occasionally, everyone can benefit from a digital cleanse vacation. In South Korea, parents can send Internet addicted teens to a 12-day boot camp where social activities and exercise replace screen time. In less severe cases, experts recommend families leave their devices at home and go out into nature together.
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