Preschool-age children are naturally full of curiosity and creativity. They love learning about interesting things while developing new skills that involve their bodies and minds. Education and entertainment options are plentiful online and through electronic media like television and a cell phone. However, many experts are concerned that children of all ages are spending too much time in front of a digital screen. The following suggestions can help to limit screen time for young children and provide alternate activities for fun and learning.
Children who love playing video games or watching favorite television shows may expect to spend considerable time doing these things. Let them choose two games or programs that they enjoy most as the ones they can play for the day. The opportunity to make decisions about playtime can help to satisfy their desire to be in control of their activities.
Monitor Screen Activities
The daycare center’s computer can be programmed with age-appropriate content and no Internet access. Hand-held games brought from home should be checked to ensure they are suitable for the child’s age level. Keep an eye on what kids are viewing on the screen as well as the use they make of the program or entertainment influence. You may need to explain some things that might not be clear to this age group or steer the child to another electronic activity.
Set a Timer
Instead of subjectively deciding when to turn off the television or direct the kids to put away their video games, designate a particular amount of time each day for screen access. Keep that time set aside for screen programming and games each day, but set the timer to avoid making an arbitrary decision when to turn off the electronic devices. Kids can be conditioned to use this time for the intended purpose and stop when the timer goes off to avoid arguments about extending the play period.
Offer Alternative Activities
When planning a daily or weekly schedule, include options for other activities instead of or in addition to screen time. Physical games outdoors, indoor play areas or in a large, open space inside is a great way for children to expend energy and develop physical strength, agility, and endurance while having fun with friends. Artistic projects like painting, modeling clay, and coloring with markers or chalk enable children to exercise their creativity as well as their manual dexterity. Dressing up in costumes or acting out roleplays stretches their imagination to consider other cultures, identities, and perspectives. Fun options like these might entice kids to spend less time using an electronic device.
Teach Screen Safety
From a young age, kids should be taught how to use a screen device correctly. This can help to prevent them accidentally ending up in a program for older children or kids with special needs. Children should learn not to bring food or beverages close to the computer and to be careful when handling snacks like these while watching television or videos. Screen use and protocols should accompany digital usage.
Most children love playing with electronic devices and engaging with screen activities. But they need guidance to utilize the devices correctly. Provide boundaries and alternative activities to protect children from overusing or misusing their screen time.