How To Get Children Away From The Small Screen
There is nothing wrong with children watching their favourite television shows and consuming internet media. After all, there are plenty of age appropriate TV channels for younger kids these days. Likewise, websites that are specifically designed for youngsters can be valuable learning tools. Both televisions shows and internet media can back up and reinforce what has been learned in school or nursery. Even pure entertainment shows can provide talking points that the whole family can engage in. Children's drama, in particular, is great way of addressing the sorts of everyday problems that kids can face.
However, too much television consumption is not something that most parents feel comfortable with. Moreover, it is the wrong sort of TV and internet media that children consume that is most worrying. A problem like teenage video game addiction is something that tends to start at a younger age. So, the difficulty remains for many parents of judging when small screen entertainment has become too much. This can be especially tricky if you are not in the same room as your child to supervise their internet usage or TV viewing.
Turning The Television Off
Encouraging your children to do something other than remain glued to their small screen is never easy. Televisions shows and internet games played on handheld devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are surprisingly addictive. Remember that they are designed to be this way so, if you decide enough is enough and turn off the screen, that you are likely to hear an outcry from your child. After all, most adults would not appreciate someone turning off the broadcast of their favourite show.
Instead, encourage you child to take responsibility for their own small screen consumption, whether it be computer based or from the TV. If you ration the consumption to a certain amount of hours per day or over a week, then give your child some flexibility - within reason - as to when they can access their shows. With so much on-demand television and media nowadays, it is hardly like your child will be missing out. They can simply watch their show later. This way, the child learns to ration small screen media for themselves and to take responsibility. It also means that they have to plan ahead for when no screen is available to them and this can encourage other types of play. Once a child is ready to engage with other forms of play for themselves you are half way to cracking the problem.
If you think that your kids are watching inappropriate content from television shows you are probably not alone. Some two thirds of British parents think that younger children access TV shows that are supposed to be broadcast after the 9pm watershed. This is usually because kids either have televisions in their rooms or because they bypass pretty feeble age checks with on-demand TV players. Remember to update your set top box's password so that your children don't have this option.
When it comes to surfing the internet, many parents are clueless about the variety of parental controls that filter what can be accessed by a child. However, there are plenty of resources available for parents who want to restrict their children's computing - and you don't need to be a computer whiz to set up something suitable. Even in cases where parents have good computer controls in place, mobile devices often let them down. Remember that children can easily stream something inappropriate for their age from a smartphone or a tablet as well as a PC.
The Big Screen
There are so many well-made children's movies these days that is surprising that a trip to the cinema is so often overlooked by parents who think their kids already spend too much time viewing smaller screens. In fact, a cinema trip makes for a great family event that everyone can enjoy together. Kids movies showing at Cineworld, for instance, often have something that adults and children can enjoy together. If you have rationed your children's television consumption, then a trip to the cinema complex at the weekend can be an excellent reward to offer. Remember that, unlike small screen entertainment, the movies offer an easy way of telling what is age-appropriate and what is not. Furthermore, children love the theatricality of it all, especially from the powerful sound systems now installed at many good picture houses.
Eating a meal, particularly with younger children who are learning how to use a knife and fork, can sometimes feel like a bit of a battleground. Try not to allow television or mobile devices to add to the problems of enjoying a meal together. Leave all these devices away from the table, including your own. Instead, try to foster a table time routine that encourages a conversation. If this is new to your family, then it can be an uphill struggle at first - but the rewards mean that it is well worth the effort.