I read a book recently about kids and screen time issues and I found the book is very easy to read, understand and helpful. Screen time is referring to the amount of time that we spend on electronic devices such as television, mobile phone, computer and game console. It is a common issue that parents are facing problems of trying to reduce our kid’s screen time especially playing mobile/computer game. I am not excluded; I do face the same issues and went into the same “fighting” with my kids whenever I try to stop them from playing mobile / computer games everyday. In every conservation with my friends who are all mothers, we shared the same issues. Honestly, I am not a fan of playing mobile/computer games but my husband is certainly enjoying his game whenever he can. Sounds familiar to you?
Why are we so concern about spending too much time on screen time especially playing game console? Although we are not the expert in medical, we understand that playing mobile/computer game for too long will certainly affects our eyes, development of brain for kids and body posture. Worse still, it affects our emotions when we are trying to complete the missions set by the game. The author of the book Chong Kee Pin mentioned in his book “Bu Da Bu Ma Zen Me Jiao” (Chinese Book), kids will ask for screen time when the parents are also spending time on their mobile phone. Hence, it is important to change our own habit, then we can guide our kids accordingly. I shared this with my husband and he agreed to reduce his time spending on mobile/computer game and social media platform. We also sent a message to our kids that, mobile phone is using for calls and manage work.
Guess what? Our kids are more willing to return the phone when they finished their screen time agreed.
The book also suggested that we could have a simple family meeting with our kids to agreed on the screen time allowed on daily / weekly basis. I tried the method and it works well. In the family meeting, I:
- Share the health issues that my kids could be facing if they spend too much time on mobile /computer game. My kids are all junior schooler; hence they can understand when we speak to them patiently. Yes, communicate with them is more effective than scolding them. You will find that they do understand our concerns.
- Agreed on the screen time allowed in daily / weekly basis. The author of the book does share that suggested screen time spending on game console for a child who is 3-4 years old, is about 30 minutes per day. For child who is 6-12 years old may spend maximum of 1 hour daily on game console. With that guideline, me and my child agreed that they will spend maximum of 1 hour during weekend on game console. In addition, they can only start playing their game after they have finished their home work plus other chores like cleaning the room in that week. Does it work? Yes! And it works all the time. I noticed that when our child agreed on something, it is quite easy for them to follow the rules.
In addition, we also introduce other activities such as going to playground at the neighbourhood with our child to reduce their needs on spending time on game console. Physical activities help to “burn” their energy and it is a good family activity for bonding purposes. Besides, I started to buy more books to inculcate their reading behavior. Replacing other activities to playing mobile/computer game is important to help them to reduce their screen time.
In short, helping our child to reduce their screen time on mobile/computer game is certainly possible. No harm trying out the methods that shared above. For those who wants to read more about the book mentioned above, get one at any bookstore today!