Excessive screen time is always bad. Handled improperly and it can have serious effects on a child’s health (such as compromising their sleeping patterns).
Unfortunately, many parents have also gone a bit off course towards the opposite extreme. Many unhelpful myths have now started cropping up such as radiation from screens, or even outright technophobia (such as that controversy about about 5G and COVID-19).
And now, as we have to spend more time indoors with our family, it is more important than ever to have a moderate, balanced perspective about screen time.
It is true that we should limit it. But at the same time, we should look to understand it, what our kids see on the screens and how we can use this knowledge to steer their minds towards other healthy, non-screen activities. Here are some suggestions:
1. Observe the presence of childhood characters.
One of our previous posts discussed why the music of our childhood years remain as fond memories thanks to neuroplasticity. It is the same with visual media.
Ask yourself, why does your child enjoy playing a particular smartphone game, or watching a video? More often than not, it’s because they feature a favourite cartoon character, whether it’s a superhero, a princess or a happy family of animals. In fact, many of the younger generations of parents also grew up with cartoons and they always remember them fondly (just like childhood music).
You can use this to your advantage by finding non-screen games or books featuring these same characters. There’s a huge abundance of that as well, so take advantage of your child’s interest!
2. Learn a bit more about game mechanics.
Have you ever caught yourself being biased against video games in favour of board games for your kids? It turns out that may not have been the best perspective. These different types of games can have a lot in common to the point that their differences are merely surface level!
As a challenge to both yourself and your family, consider getting a board game that isn’t similar to Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly or all the other usual suspects with very basic mechanics. Some parents make the mistake that bonding over such games can be better video games when the rules of such simple board games aren’t actually as engaging!
Look for games that emulate these immersive elements more seriously, such as puzzle-solving, strategic thinking and even role-playing! If you think kids can enjoy all these things without a screen, then you best understand the kind of mechanics that really deliver the experience!
3. Step into your child’s imagination.
Last but not least, we should remember that the things we see on the screen are all products of the imagination. Movies, shows and yes, even computer games, have all been used as story-telling mediums. (After all, we’ve already just seen how many books, fairy tales and legends adapted to our screens!)
The visual.stimulation they provide should certainly be moderated, but we must also understand why children can be so immersed in them. They have a potential to inspire and keep our minds filled with wonder even long after the show is over.
Using our imagination exercises a lot of functions in our brain and this works very well with neuroplasticity. So, right after you switch off the screens, reflect on what your child was seeing on it. Encourage them to draw or even write to express their enjoyment. Some children even go as far as depict themselves as their own heroes and in their own stories. These are things that parents should really learn to appreciate!
To sum it up, it’s important to monitor screen time while also reflecting on the content that children engage in. And by reflect, it doesn’t necessarily mean disapprove. See what you can learn from it when coming up with equally enjoyable activities that counterbalance screen exposure!
If you need any advice or support, then know that we at the Australian Tomatis Method are still here to help you. Please reach out if you need to, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to Francoise at 0414 444 915.