Parenting During COVID-19 – Alternatives to TV

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Since the start of the COVID-19 situation many of us spend far more time at home. With schools still closed in most places children get inordinately more screen time. Excessive screen time is unhealthy. Here are some thoughts about getting kids away from TV constructively.

Mother and child with face mask and hand sanitizer

 The evils of TV

Too much TV can cause obesity, insecurity, and poor academic outcomes in children. TV is not the only danger. Our kids spend hours each day on computers, tablets, and phones. The American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is an organization focused on the well-being of youngsters in the US. The AACAP published a report on screen time and children. The statistics are nothing short of horrifying. The AACAP found that children aged 8-12 in the US spend 4-6 hours a day looking at various screens. For teens this duration is as high as 9 hours. The screens in question include smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and computers.

Too much screen time leads to problems. The AACAP reported that some of the problems caused from excessive screen time in children are sleep disorders, low grades, poorer assimilation of information, poor metabolism leading to excessive weight gain, and poorer social skills. With much of education now online, a certain number of weekly hours of screen time is unavoidable. As adults we much try and minimize the non-essential hours.

Outdoor activity

With social distancing children get to play outside less. This is why we must consciously plan and devote time to outdoor physical activity. Gundersen Health System, a non-profit hospital in Wisconsin, recommends outdoor activities such as bike rides, foot races, backyard soccer, catch, basketball, and jumping rope. Some of these can be enjoyed in our backyards. Most parents now find themselves at home full-time. Yet we do not have the luxury of supervising the kids all day. Even from home we must work. Home backyards are outdoor spaces where children can play, free of the COVID-19 risk.

Routine

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that school-going children are used to routine. With schools out it falls to the parents to create and implement routines. Putting together a flexible master schedule for the week can be very helpful for both children and parents. Let children select some of their weekly activities while you set the timings. A healthy combination of discipline and choice can help build children’s independence as they grow older. Goal setting encourages children to consider possibilities and plan things to achieve their desired outcomes.

Academics

Parents now have all the responsibility for the educational development of the kids. Consider that in schools most of the day is set aside for learning. Emulate something similar for your little ones. Set academic goals and small rewards to encourage learning. Just like school, create breaks for meals, play, and leisure. The AAP suggests that parents should have calls with other parents from their children’s schools. Parents from a school can also form social media groups to discuss learning and school-related subjects. This can help to compare notes about what works best. It is important to ensure that the children continue their academic progress.

Chores

With all of the family spending more time at home, household chores add up. Depending on the kids’ ages it is a good strategy to involve them in doing chores. These are important learning experiences that inculcate responsibility, tidiness, and other helpful traits. Over time this can lead to the development of self-sufficiency and organization skills. Chores can also help reinforce the weekly routine.

Family time

Communication is important. Discussing the day’s events, ups and downs, opinions, issues, and news among the family is great for bonding. You can’t do this when the TV is on. Millions of parents live and work in foreign countries, away from their families. They send money online to support their loved ones. Even from afar parents find time to be with their children via video and audio calls.

Doing things together as a family is also a great idea. Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that parents should spend time teaching their kids skills, such as how to ride a bike. Family time adds real value when parents and children are fully involved. Also set aside some solo time in the routine for everyone. Encourage children to spend alone time in constructive ways, such as reading a book or introspecting.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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Parenting During COVID-19 - Alternatives to TV
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Since the start of the COVID-19 situation many of us spend far more time at home.
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