My toddler's growing screen addiction became apparent during the holidays. Every time he sat down to breakfast or got back from an activity or when he woke up from a sleep he said ‘can I watch TV now Mummy?’ He basically bounced out of bed and said it! He never forgot about screen time or let up.
For the first eighteen months of his life he barely watched any TV but with my time stretched thin with a second child, I leaned on TV to grab moments of time. It was the built in babysitter while I made dinner for everyone, attended to the baby or tidied up. Now it has got hold of him, I am feeling desperate to break the habit. After looking at this issue a bit deeper, I have come up with 7 achievable steps that will help me limit screen time. Let us know which ones work for your kids or if you have any to share.
1. Position the TV out of site in a cabinet or in a separate room so it’s not the backdrop to daily life,
2. Break up viewing time into 10 – 20 minutes sessions (the younger your children, the shorter the viewing times need to be) This also keeps their little brains from going into autopilot. Play a game or go outside to distract them,
3. Definitely turn off during meals. Dinner is my weakness as the most popular shows coincide with our parenting peak-hour of the day,
4. Download and pre-record programs that will improve the quality and suitability of TV time, for example those that emphasise interaction, that inspire your child to make sounds, say words, or sing and dance,
5. Put together a special box of toys and objects to bring out at those difficult times of day when it might be tempting to turn on the TV, things that they don’t see all the time,
6. Set aside a cupboard or drawer full of things your toddler can safely explore – for example, colourful plastic containers, drink bottles and so on. Let your child get at the cupboard only when you need a break,
7. Play more music and story CDs. These can be less overwhelming than TV images and sounds. Check out Baby Karaoke – an animated storybook of popular children’s songs.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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