By Mr. Sanjeev Bhargava, Director – Brand, TOI
Amongst their many worries in these testing times, parents didn’t need a lockdown to be worried about the amount of time their kid spends in front of a screen. As far as the concept of screen time is concerned, all time for their little one is now screen time. Be it attending virtual classes or battling it out on a digital playground, instead of an outdoor one, kids are glued to a screen for a duration that’s harmful to their health. Findings of a recently-released report by JAMA Pediatrics reveal that 87% of children had their screen time increased, with the kids in the age of 7-8 having their viewing consumption rising to 1.5 hours per day. While the numbers may be alarming to some, parents and teachers, on their part can reduce the number of hours that Gen Z kids spend in front of screens as well as ensure that they consume content that is of some value.
Why is it a big problem?
The screen has been a boon for the education system over the past few months and helped restore the situation with a sense of normalcy. However, the problem arises when there’s an excess of recreational screen time. Since active learning is instrumental in retaining information, staring at a screen may lead to their attention span decreasing and mood alterations, which results in the disruption of their learning capabilities.
Add to that, the severe lack of any outdoor activity combined with excess screen time can lead to myopia along with issue of bad posture which can cause chronic muscle ache in the back and neck.
Manage Screen Time efficiently
Kids are indeed fast learners. And with these digital mediums being highly engaging, it’s no surprise to see them become more tech-savvy and choose to spend so much time in front of a screen. With excess screen time being detrimental to their health, schools and parents must use these platforms more effectively. Teachers, on their part, can reduce the screen time by keeping the classes short, while parents can start by tracking and managing how much time their kids actually spend in front of a screen. In one of the session by Times #KeepLearning campaign in association with BYJU’s, Ramesh Karra, VP – Brand Strategy, BYJU’S, advised that this is the right moment for the education system to step up and take a leap ahead. He also suggested that teachers should experiment with 3D learning, video tutorials from experts around the world in order to make the learning process skill and application-based.
Establishing a designated time and/or zone, in the house, where electronics are banned, can create a very big difference. An example can be the kitchen or the dinner table, where the family spends quality time together. Parents can strike the perfect balance to their kid’s life by allotting a certain number of hours in the day where their child will spend time away from a screen – sleeping, reading a physical book, drawing, art and craft, etc.
Make them see the right thing
Spending time in front of the screen in a productive manner would certainly make parents worry less. Now is the time to make our children consume content, but only that kind of information which is of value to them. Parents and teachers must lay impetus to the child’s overall development and pay equal attention to their academics and sports. Online sessions can be designed to keep the child physically active along with providing them a chance to interact socially with other kids and learn. Doing so will prevent development regression and also improve their cognitive development.
But kids can only do so if their eyes are in good shape. In order to do so, they can practice the 20/20/20 method — where they must take a break from the digital device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away and blink regularly to avoid their eyes drying up. As far as their nutrition is concerned, the consumption of Omega 3 rich foods and following a healthy diet regularly can help lubricate the eyes.