Unplugged: Digital detox for kids

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ON WEEKENDS, I am notoriously known in the family as someone who leaves her mobile phone in the room for a few hours as I go about my routine gadget-free. It is somewhat liberating not to check for notifications.

Early on, my husband also utilized parental screen time apps to set a “curfew” for the kids’ gadgets in their social media accounts, entertainment, among others. This has invaluably taught them how to manage their time well.

Now, they have learned how to self-regulate while using their preferred screen time apps. They have become mindful of finishing their tasks within their set targets while not compromising their sleep.

Did you know that in an article by Reid Health “on average, kids ages eight to twelve spend four to six hours per day with screens, and up to nine hours as teens”? This information is according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that too much screen time can lead to negative effects such as “impaired sleep; delays in learning and social skills; obesity; and behavior problems”.

So, how do we guide our children to be responsible in their screen time?

Striking a balance

Young mom Peony Haw says that “screen time is not all bad, especially now that we live in a digital world and the occurrence of the pandemic resulting in distance learning, which is highly digital, too.”

“Children are cooped up at home almost the entire time. I believe we just have to find the right balance. It is also an opportunity to teach discipline to our kids,” she shares.

Together with husband businessman Wesley, Peony makes sure to provide plenty of opportunities to stimulate their kids Oliver Rooke (6 y.o) and Madison Reese’s (3 y.o.) minds. For example, they do puzzles or read books together. Wesley also takes them out to ride their bike or scooter.

“On weekends, we let them have their controlled screen time which means time-off for mom and dad, too! And they know this schedule, so they just wait until they are allowed to watch TV or use a gadget. There's little to no struggle or tantrums,” the registered nurse reveals.

Purpose-driven activities

“We also encourage their imagination by providing materials that they can create or build with such as modeling clay, wooden blocks, and supplies for drawing and painting. These are their favorite things to do, and they keep them busy,” Peony details.

Recently, Peony who owns the toy store Rooke+Reese, and Jan Buenaventura, the mom behind Storked, the first stand-alone baby store in the city, partnered together with their husbands Wesley and Anton to open a one-stop-shop for all parenting needs named ParenThing.

For this Christmas, the hands-on mom recommends these five purposeful gifts to lessen screen time for kids:

1. BALANCE BIKES – Bicycles without pedals are great as starter bikes for kids. It will be easier for the young ones to ride their bikes without training wheels later on.

2. MICADOR CRAFT SETS - Micador is a world-renowned brand from Australia famous for its arts and crafts line which is safe and non-toxic. Their craft sets are complete with recommendations and instructions. Thinking up activities for the kids would be easy-peasy.

3. JANOD WOODEN TOYS - Kids love pretend play and these toys encourage them to enhance their creativity and imagination.

4. PUZZLES - Magnetic tangrams, jigsaw puzzles, and matchstick puzzles are fun brain-ticklers for kids as well as parents.

5. BOOKS – These are no-fail gifts. One can never have too many books. The Haws love giving and receiving books.

With proper guidance from parents, screen time can certainly be controlled. One just needs to find interesting activities for the kids’ digital detox and unplug as a family.

E-mail the author at mom.about.town.dvo@gmail.com. Visit http://momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com/.