The Digital Babysitter- Solutions!!

3 year old Arvind comes back from school, throws his bag and shoes on the floor and flops on the sofa to watch his favorite show. He is fed and changed while he is busy watching his favourite Chota Bheem series. After close of three hours, he falls asleep in front of the television. After his nap, he creates a ruckus in the house with his vocal chords and destructive habits. His parents feel lost.
8 year old Niravaan has regular fights with his sister over the choice of channels. Since they have only one television set in their house, their parents are often unable to watch the programmes of their choice. One would assume that it would tone down their agony, but the fights have now permeated to other areas of their lives.
4 year old Nathan has been termed a hyperactive child- all because he is too energetic and unable to sit still for long. A doctor had diagnosed Nathan with AHAD, but luckily, a second opinion told them otherwise. The parents took away the screens and voila, could connect with their child like never before. Needless to say, there is a marked improvement in the child’s behaviour.

So, as parents and educators, we have seen it all and we agree that screen time ought to be limited. But try telling that to these evolved souls-especially the ones for whom screens have become a way of life. Uprooting a screen addiction is never easy, but only a mom can do it! 
Moodiness. Restlessness. Strange cravings. Incoherent speech. An inability to focus on tasks that require concentration. Emotional outbursts. These qualities may be used to describe a person on drugs or trying to quit smoking. They also perfectly express what my four-year-old daughter is like after a two hour Disney movie. – Nicole Crawford
Here are some suggestions which may be useful to you while you de-addict your child from the screen lures.
·         ANALYSE the eye movement
o   Fill up the following few statements are you will get a fair idea of where you stand
§  My child watches a screen for ….. hours every day.
§  My child watches a screen for ….. hours on weekends.
§  % of waking hours spent……
o   Get the children to fill up a log of their TV viewing to document the number of hours spent watching television each day. Awareness brings about transformation. Chances are that your child will be shocked himself!
·         CHOOSE your poison
o   Be it the modes of entertainment (TV/IPAD/TAB/MOBILES/VIDEO GAMES) or your child’s dream come true (Dora/Diego/Doraemon/ Chota Bheem), get your child to choose. They need to know that they can’t have it all.  So, just as you prepare a timetable for your child’s daily routine, let them set a TV routine of their choice every Sunday night. My 6 year old surprises me with her choices all the time –all because she knows that she has only an hour at her disposal and she better choose a program that is guaranteed to make her emotionally satisfied.
·          RATE your choice
o   Rating tools like Imdb may not obliviate your child’s craze for the screens but it gives you a filter to know what suits your child’s age and sensitivities. We generally avoid programmes with a rating of 6.5 and below. Also, there is a tab-Parents Guide in the website which gives a rating to the program from a parent’s perspective.

Also, there is a tab-Parents Guide in the website which gives a rating to the program from a parent’s perspective. You may choose to protect your child from such images/scenes/programmes.

     ·         RESET biological batteries- You can’t watch TV if the sun is shining.  
o   Go green-literally. Have brunches in parks. Go cycling. Have weekend picnics with friends. Use your terraces for star gazing. I have fond memories of flying polythene bags with a string attached to the balcony holdings. I once did a bubble blowing activity for a group of young kids in the open area outside my home. Huge fun!
·         ORGANISE your backup plans
o   Once you limit your child’s screen time, do you have your options ready? Or do you expect your kiddo to gaze at you with dog eyed admiration and hands folded in pranaam mudra while you are frantically cutting onions and furiously challoing the kadchee? To avoid a face-off and further trauma, keep options open.
What I do: Once their regular TV time is up, we play hopscotch. (See below) Unlike the regular game, my two daughters (aged 2.5 and 5.5) throw a dice on the floor. It is funny to see the limits they go to to be able to throw a dice into “More TV” – last time, my girls got a chair!!

For that transition period, where you are getting your kiddo off the wagon, make those options interesting. So, if it book time, read with your child. And if at that time, he doesn’t want to read Pepper- let him be! If that time, he wants to make a tower out of books, give him a thumbs up!  Better still, throw a ball at the tower and jump and shout with glee as the books topple over. You get the point.
·         SAARE MILKAR BOLO:-No means No
o   They will cry, they will rant. They will make life a living hell. Don’t you dare give in. Even the tiniest spark of uncertainty in your eyes and they will catch on to it.
·         MODEL your leisure time
o   You can’t expect to be on your mobile 24X7 and be able to train your child otherwise. Disconnect to connect.
o   For those who complain that the domestic environment inspires background TV, take heart. Invest time and energy to orient the seniors of the ills of too much TV. Do it consistently – every week, same day and same time. Show research. Best- Discuss this concern with the class teacher and get the grandparents / family members for a formal chat with the class teacher.
·         CREATE some magic
o   May moms often crib that household tasks and taking care of the elderly in the family takes away their time to keep the children engaged productively. So, it’s always Oggy to the rescue. So, ask yourself- What can I do? When I saw my children getting attracted to the idiot box during the GAP time,I would engage them with wet flour. Busy children- a big achievement for me- and fine motor development at work!  
o   When your children come from school, keep their teddy bears and soft toys in a circle and invite them for a tea party!
o   A 2 year old would be busy for at least half an hour if you attach a piece of cello tape on her finger.
o   Hide that remote and make them search!
Your creativity is the best resource you have!
With gratitude,

4 Comments on “The Digital Babysitter- Solutions!!

  1. This is awesome ,worth giving a try…thanks a ton dear for pisting it..
    My toddler gets up watches tv,once he is back from school 1st thing he does is watch tv,n trust me it really use to get on to my nerves.thanks agai

  2. This is awesome ,worth giving a try…thanks a ton dear for pisting it..
    My toddler gets up watches tv,once he is back from school 1st thing he does is watch tv,n trust me it really use to get on to my nerves.thanks agai

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