Why a Screen-free Environment is Important for Toddlers
Let’s face it, in this digital world, it’s getting increasingly tougher to keep children, even toddlers, away from screens. From mobiles to television and modern techniques of education, children below the age of 5 spend more time than is considered appropriate in front of screens, which is why by the time they are teenagers, they are afflicted with diseases that were unheard of, even a generation ago.
Research and studies show that screen addiction amongst toddlers is one of the most worrying social maladies of our times. But as parents, do we understand this and take pro-active steps to curtail our child’s screen time? Parents must work towards making “screen-free” a way of life, so much so, that even while considering preschools for their children they should look for a place that limits or restricts screen usage and focuses instead on learning through activities and play.
Why children should lead a screen-free life?
Before we go further, here’s a quick look at five reasons why your children should lead a screen-free life:
1) Screen-free time gives their brains other things to think about. Studies show that adrenaline and dopamine are released in the brain with screen use – these chemicals have a harmful effect on young brains.
2) Face-to-face interactions in school and among the family members help children form strong interpersonal bonds which help them in their relationships later on in life, and also usher in future health and success.
3) It encourages kids to explore other interests, get curious about learning, and do things on their own.
4) Lets them discover real play, and also makes them environment-conscious.
5) It lets them understand real-life and the world out there, so there is no disconnect when they discover the realities of life.
What can parents do?
Parenting in the digital era is quite a challenge. Especially, when we ourselves are unable to keep aside that mobile phone even for half an hour. So, here is the list of things parents can do to limit their children’s screen time.
Lead by example: Limit the usage of smartphones and TV when home and spend more time with your kids.
Have screen-free mealtimes: Never encourage your child to watch TV or something on a mobile when they eat.
Do not keep a TV in the bedroom: Create tech-free zones in the house.
Set a time for mobile usage: Teach children to consider screen time as a privilege – fix and limit their time. Switch off your phones at a specific time.
Play games or take up an activity as a family: Encourage your child to take up an activity of his or her interest to cut boredom.
Engage your child in a conversation: Pick up a topic of their interest and use that as a means to teach them.
Over and above all this, parents can make an intelligent choice of a school when introducing their toddler to school life. When starting with a preschool, you can ensure that you send your child to a school that encourages real-life learning as well as a school that strongly believes in letting children discover the outdoors.
Do such schools exist, you ask?
A preschool that provides a screen-free environment
Yes, they do! Beansprouts Pre-school has a very different approach to educate kids of this generation. At Beansprouts, learning means letting a child explore, experience, and thereby learn. The aim is to empower children to pursue their interests, whet their curiosity and their natural quest for knowledge, amongst a host of other ways. This makes them learn through experimental discovery, which they will never forget. Facilitators at this school believe that love is a catalyst that ignites the thirst for learning and when you learn to love, you love to learn.
Heard of a 360-degree curriculum, parents?
The 360-degree curriculum is a method of teaching that focuses on placing the child at the centre of learning experiences within relationship-driven environments. It takes forward the school’s core philosophy of ‘learn to love, and love to learn.’ The vast outdoors of this school, built on one-acre of green land at Malibu Towne, Gurugram, becomes the ‘third educator,’ furthering the overall 360-degree learning for a child that’s at the center of such an active campus. It is within this caring, secure environment, equipped with many tech-enabled facilities, that your child’s learning journey will begin.
A playful environment
A journey that will harness your child’s social and cognitive skills through love, and by nurturing the physical and mental development of the child; by drawing him or her into the social and cognitive thought processes at a very young and impressionable age. And at Beansprouts Preschool, all this is done amidst a safe, friendly and playful environment. Aiding them in achieving this goal is a team of vibrant, trained educators, peer-group leaders, and teaching evangelists, who focus on creating challenging, innovative and enriching classroom environments that slowly but surely wean the kids away from screen dependency for education.
Lastly, here are some ways how parents and the school can together stem screen-addiction among children:
When school, teachers, and parents join hands
According to the American Heart Association, kids between 2 and 5 years should be allowed only one hour screen time per day. So how can one do this?
Schools, teachers, and parents together can inculcate healthy habits among children that they will automatically follow for the rest of their lives. They can work out a schedule for the child that limits the number of hours that the child spends on screen.
Parents can share screen-time rules at home and teachers can help extend those rules at school as well and vice-versa.
Teachers can help children understand how too much screen-time can be harmful; parents can set an example at home.
Parents can work with teachers to promote physical activities, create plays and mimes around this theme.
Teachers can share tips and ideas with children every day to limit screen time.
Last but not the least, parents can start with one screen-free day in a week, having one additional family meal, or planning one additional outdoor family activity per week – and then build on this success.