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  • How To Limit Your Child's Gadget Use When He's Had Unlimited Access

    Parents, ask yourselves these questions if you want to limit your child’s gadget use
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
How To Limit Your Child's Gadget Use When He's Had Unlimited Access
PHOTO BY Pixabay
  • Pediatricians will attest to the increasing number of parents who ask them what can be done about their children’s excessive gadget use. This was one of the questions that inevitably surfaced at the latest Smart Parenting Masterclass Toddler Expertips titled “Parenting in the Digital World.”

    The experts of the webinar, which was co-presented with Nido, all agreed that gadgets are not only disrupting family dynamics but holistic learning that involves spending time playing outdoors and even interacting with friends.

    “On the average children now spend seven to eight hours a day on a gadget. Practically, [this happens] to children ages 3, 5, 7. More pa as they grow,” says developmental and behavioral pediatrician Francis Dimalanta.

    Nest School of Child Development directress Tina Zamora explains that screen time is not just limited to gadget use. “It refers to all screens — screen in the car, the TV at home, the mom watching TV and nakikipanood yung bata. Screen time is not just the number of minutes you allow your child on the gadget but the collective amount of time that she is exposed to it.”

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    How to manage your child's gadget use

    When the gadget use of your child becomes excessive and uncontrollable, you have reason to worry. Here's what you can do to minimize gadget use to a reasonable amount of time.

    Stop using gadgets as a replacement for babysitting/caregiving

    “As a pediatrician, I observe that the smaller ones are glued to the tablet, and it’s so hard to get their attention,” says pediatrician and epidemiologist Dr. Josephine Yuson-Sunga. She also shares how some parents would rush to give their kid a gadget as a “pacifier” after an immunization.

    Dr. Dimalanta warns that using a gadget to “sooth” a child or keep him quiet affects his social and emotional development. “They don’t know now how to self-regulate. It’s being given for the wrong reasons rather than allowing the child to feel what they feel.”

    Zamora warns that parents should be wary when gadgets are used for ‘instant gratification.’ “When she is crying, it’s an instant pacifier, when she is bored, its instant gratification and all children who have mental health issues have that problem.” She adds that parents should allow their children to be bored. When they declare ‘I’m bored’ let them find ways to entertain themselves without the use of the gadget. “It shouldn’t be a parent’s problem,” she says.

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    Stick to your gadget rules (be consistent)

    It happens to the best of us. At first, we may be one of those parents who strictly monitored our children’s gadget consumption, and then we start to lose track until finally, we give up monitoring altogether. The younger we leave kids to use gadgets without limits, the harder it will be for parents to wean them from it as they grow older, warn the experts.

    “We pediatricians advise parents a screen time of one hour with a compromise of two hours. [Ideally], there should be no gadgets during weekdays. We’d like to emphasize that parents should start this discipline early, especially for toddlers 1-3 [years] because this is also the age they get hooked on it. You have to start early,” Dr. Yuson-Sunga stresses.

    Dr. Dimalanta says, ideally, there should be completely no gadget use below 2 years old. “Two years old and above should have a limit of 1-2 hours, and that doesn’t mean two hours straight,”  he adds.For her part, Zamora warns about using the gadget as a reward. For example, a parent allows its use on the condition that the child finishes his homework. “That cannot be. You really have to manage the time,” she says.

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    Walk the talk — limit your screen time

    “It has to start with us, parents,” says Zamora. “We have to be good examples. It’s hard to regulate their screen time tapos tayong parents [we do it as well.] We also have to self-regulate and set good examples. If it’s mealtime, take your gadgets away from the table. If it’s playtime, no gadgets for you.”

    Zamora elaborates that a working mom who comes home and gives her full attention her child can still be more engaged than a stay-at-home mom who is on her gadget the whole day.

    Dr. Dimalanta concludes, “Remember you are a parent, not a friend. So give the child what they need, not what they want.”

    You can watch the entire Smart Parenting Masterclass Toddler Expertips webinar below.

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