Your cell phone has already replaced your camera, your calendar and your alarm clock. Don’t let it replace your family.
There is no doubt that we live in the modern age of technology. A child little more than a year old, now can access an iPhone without any help. Children seem to be addicted to playing games on any device they can get their hands on, iPods, iPhones, iPads. Even though a lot of parents have screen rules, they still nag and nag to play games on a cell phone.
But, if we see, children are not alone. More and more people, adults, teens spend hours and hours on mobile devices. We all know about it, we know how addictive they are, we also try hard to restrict our own phone usage but at times we find ourselves reaching for it just because we are bored. The reality is we too are hooked to our phone. So now the question is how do you find balance? How can you balance allowing your child’s time to play on mobile devices without it taking over? Read following tips to learn how to control your child’s mobile usage
First and foremost understand that the children don’t really need a smartphone. They also don’t really need a tablet. Follow the “BATS” rule which is Learn to deal with child’s BOREDOM, find an alternative, set a TIME limit and support your child.
If your child is asking for a phone just say “No.” Of course, don’t be obnoxious. Say it in a most pleasant, but assertive way you can. Try to make a conversation with the child and sit together to make a plan of how to deal with boredom without using a mobile phone or a tablet, find fun alternatives like playing with clay, sowing a seed, cooking together or playing games which require physical activity.
If you gave your child the phone, limit the usage. Agree on some terms and stand by them. Some possible agreements may be: “Use it for five minutes or you can just watch one video or you can just play one game.” We as parents need to know that we have to set a time limit because the child will never come up and give away the gadget to you .It won’t happen. You have to enforce this agreement.
Try to use your child’s playing with the phone for your own benefit, find apps which help to build your child’s vocabulary and problem solving skills. you can also use ‘smart phone time’ to get the child involved in daily chores by asking him to do simple chores with you in return he can get “smart phone time” But, beware of not turning it into habit.
Set an example for you child. Make sure your limit your own smartphone usage so that the child can follow it. Try shifting from a smart phone for a while, if you think your child is addicted to the smartphone. Children love to imitate so we as parents should set a good example.
Support your child. For children who are totally dependent on smartphones for dealing with boredom it can be hard to limit the usage of smartphone. Listen to them and help them to understand why smartphone is harmful for them. Children love to know about science and logic so it will be helpful if you use logic with them.
As a child counsellor I come across a lot of parents who leave their children alone with the phone (sometimes it’s necessary) I would suggest that install one of the “sandbox” applications, such as Zoodles or Famigo. They basically offer you to have a separate profile designed for the kid. This way, they’ll only be able to use the apps that you let them and not mess with your contacts, SMS’s or Facebook on your behalf.You must also set passwords so that children have no direct access to your phone.There are number of apps which let the parents keep a track of their child’s phone usage.
I believe, It’s not good enough for us to have generations of children that look forward to a better version of a phone instead they need to look forward to exploration.
(The author is Counsellor, Jodhamal Public School)