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Television programs are your kids’ best buddies especially now in COVID-19 pandemic crisis. When you work from home, it keeps them busy watching (not interacting with) the characters they see on cartoons, transporting their minds to another dimension.
In this new setup, online or virtual learning will be our best way to cope. Laptop and television are both screens, right? So after school, is it healthy to have more screen time for kids?
Like with drug toxicity, too much of a good thing is a poison. It seems TV programs have good and bad sides. We’ll discuss them one by one.
Sleeping Less from TV Shows, the New Normal?
An example of the mental world I was talking about is when kids see and hear many ads endorsing consumption of unhealthy foods. These ads encourage this behavior, and this might result in greediness. Like what I’ve said before, unhealthy habits lead to unhealthier habits.
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A recent study proved that limiting the hours of television advertising for foods and beverages high in saturated fat, sugar and salt could make a significant contribution to lessen the number of obesity cases in children.
Studies also suggest disrupted sleep caused by exceeding the screen time limit for kids is also in play here. When they don’t get enough Zzz’s, their capability to produce fat burning hormones is also impaired, resulting in fat accumulation.
Experiments proved reducing exposure to TV shows results in lower body mass index (BMI). To maintain it, you must encourage them to do quick workouts during commercial breaks.
Also, the urge to snack is high too. It turns out being a couch potato reduces sensitivity to feeling satiety. Apparently, watching TV is a far more important causal evidence for obesity of child than excesses in calorie counting.
Television is Linked with Sedentary Lifestyle
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Television programs rob your kids the time for exercise and activity. Some can even feed the mind nasty things like whether it’s alright to choose fries and diet soda from the boring veggies.
This also creates the temptation to let time pass and so, diminishes in them the value of time. Their morals and perspective are affected also.
Pandemic’s Impact on Child Psychology
In dealing with isolation due to COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety slowly creeps in children the same way in adults. Without school, children may no longer have the sense of structure and stimulation that is provided by that environment, and less opportunity for making friends that might be essential for their development.
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Shower them love and attention, which they need to cast their fears away. Also, explain to them what is happening in a way their innocent minds can understand. Parents should be resilient in dealing with stress so that they can be role models for their children.
Are TV shows new playmates?
No. When we watch TV, our brains shift from thinking critically to being most receptive to ideas. No wonder TV ads and propaganda linger in our minds. In other words, we are, mentally, in another world.
A kid needs guidance since he doesn’t have enough experiences to support or create a counter-argument, hence everything is a fresh input. Images are engraved directly into the brain without active participation.
“A child… learning how to talk isn’t going to benefit from watching TV unless somebody is… with them and interacting. ‘Sesame Street’ says, ‘Let’s count,’ and the person watching with the child counts with the child and has the interaction, then it becomes an interactive activity.” said Miriam E. Bar-on, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Screen Time for Kids, Which is Good? And Bad?
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Apparently, experts agree that the ‘bad’ screen time isn’t that which teaches them socializing, positive thinking, and problem-solving skills. That could be video-chatting with their techie grandma, or watching television programs that engage active thinking skills.
Therefore, it is your role as a parent to schedule screen time for different purposes, such as learning, social connections, and positive entertainment, while also preparing activities such as baking, walking in the park, and playing with dogs.
London Bridge is Falling Down
The most effective way to do this is to make them the thinker. The action must come from them.
And it is crucial that you build rapport. You must instill into them why should they stop.
“We’ll play Frisbee later this afternoon to have strong bones,” is much more friendly to kids than commanding them “Turn off that tablet.”
It’s like the real world surprising them in a snap. And this will create confusion, resulting in hormonal shock, causing him to cry and scream. Blocking his view then turning the TV off is a perfect recipe for tantrums.
You’ll need a bridge to lead the child back to reality. Vector art of Graphics RF
Here are tantrum-free screen time recommendations from Isabelle Filliozat, a clinical psychologist specializing in positive parenting:
- Sit with him for 30 seconds, a minute, or longer, and simply watch whatever she is watching/doing.
- Ask an innocent question about what’s happening on screen.
This will create a bridge for your child to travel from the imaginary world to the real world. This is the perfect time for bonding.
How Much Screen Time is Too Much
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued these daily screen time recommendations:
· Children younger than 24 months: only video chats are allowed
· Ages 2-5: one hour with adult who can answer questions and keep them engaged
· Ages 5-18: four hours, heavily linked with greater chance of childhood obesity.
· Content also matters. The more violent or risky behaviors (e.g., smoking or drinking alcohol) a child is exposed to, the more likely they are to engage in them as they grow older.
But every household is different. So use this only as a guide and be flexible enough to find the habit that works for you.
Clever Ways to Limit Screen Time
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Keeping oneself physically and mentally active is key in conquering the lockdown and social distancing anxieties. Here are some additional screen time recommendations from David Bickham, lead researcher at Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) at Boston Children’s Hospital:
- Plan activities that incorporate different types of play, including board games, balls, blocks, and role play.
- Practice games using letters or numbers to help your child build important skills (e.g., crosswords, Sudoku).
- Offer to play with your child and follow their lead.
- Give your child some toy and game options to choose from.
- Encourage your child to be creative. They might turn meal time or bath time into a game. Or appreciate music and art.
- Provide simple household items like cardboard boxes, tissue paper, and egg crates and let your child design their own toys or games.
Spending time with your kids is a rewarding task. Keep in mind that childhood is a critical stage for their character and personality development. What they think of the world now will surely have long-term effects in the future.
Don’t let TV shows discourage new avenues for their learning. Having grey hairs in distracting your child from television programs? Share your story in the comments below!