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Too much screen time? Here’s what to do about it.

I’ll start by saying, this was meant to happen. Homeschooling and online tutoring have amplified a phenomenon that was already a tough one to battle. Children end up spending too much time in front of a computer, and after that in front of a mobile phone or tablet, simply because there is no other way at the moment for the to connect with their friends and the outside world.

As much as we hate to admit it, we are also a bit obsessed with our phone.Children mimic their parents behaviour. Not to throw the ball to you, but the more your child watches you scrawl down Instagram and Twitter, the more he or she will think that it’s absolutely normal for them to spend their spare time scrawling too. It’s fine, we all do it.

If you’re experiencing a similar situation with your child and your phone, here are four incredibly simple things you can do about it. Keep your phones in a different room This is my first tip for cutting down on phone time for both you and your child when spending time together. While it’s nice to have your phone nearby for emergencies or for photo ops, it’s also likely you reach for it and scroll Instagram, check emails, and respond to texts far more frequently than you need to throughout the day. By placing it just one room away, you’ll still be able to run for it if absolutely needed, but you and your child won’t be tempted to look at it otherwise. Put your phone on a high shelf Out of sight, out of mind still works here. With your phone out of immediate reach, it’s still accessible to grab quickly to snap a picture, but your younger children likely won’t spot it. Plus, you’ll be slightly less likely to mindlessly grab for it if it takes a little effort to get it. Set specific phone times If your child is at an age where you’re OK with them watching a few videos on your phone, stick to a schedule of when this will happen. Especially toddlers often do best with set routines, knowing when certain things are going to happen. If you allow 10 minutes of videos at 2 p.m. every day, they may come to know and expect that schedule. Hopefully, this will lead to less whining for your phone at other times of the day. Plus, aside from that 2 p.m. appointment, you can make sure your phone is out of reach the rest of the day. Do fun things together It’s playtime! When playing together, I strongly suggest you leave out any electronic devices, and do something physical and creative that encourages you to be fully involved and collaborative. The more your child watches you being invested in a drawing, the more likely it is they’ll copy you, and eventually start doing it themselves as well. Other activities might include: reading together, making up and acting out stories, building castles, walk in the park, sing, cook together, do little workouts. Remember that breaking up your current dependent relationship with your phone will make other feel less obsessed with it too. These habits aren’t easy to break, but once you get into a routine, it gets easier to stick to it over time, and hopefully you will pass it down to your little one as well. Marlen Vasilopoulou, Music Director

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