Less Screen Time: How Parents Can Gently Nudge Teens Away From TVs and Computers

Hazem, or Zoom as he prefers to be called, is a 15-year-old from Houston, TX. He enjoys fantasy novels, video games and chilling with friends. His favorite subjects are English, Literature and Chemistry. He wants to be an International Lawyer.

Television Addiction, Habits, HealthAlmost all parents around the world go through this: How do we get our children to leave television and the Internet and participate in more productive and useful activities?

The issue is ubiquitous, but so is the cause. Kids simply can’t find something as absorbing and as colorful as television. The difference between the kids who stay at home and watch TV all day and those who just love getting out there and running is how they are accustomed to it. If a child grew up relying on electronic methods for entertainment and fun like television, video games and the Internet, it is almost impossible to expect this child to enjoy kicking a ball in the bright sun, as they never discovered its joy. I don’t mean to say they should be forced into these sort of activities when they’re young or that their parents should forbid them from Internet or television but they should be strongly encouraged from an early age so that by the time they’re thirteen or fifteen, it has become a habit and they would automatically prefer it over any sort of technological means of entertainment.

A question many will probably ask is, “What if the child is already hooked on those things?” In that case, it is of course a very difficult situation, as they will not wish to leave what has now become for them a very significant comfort zone. The antidote has to be slow and steady. You simply cannot go up to your son or daughter one day and tell them, “All right! That’s enough gaming for you!” Not only will they be utterly furious at their parent (you!) they will NOT stop because as we are all aware of, teenagers adore rebellion. That is, of course, not to mention the fact that when you are hooked on something, letting go is quite hard. Parents should start by small things like maybe inviting their kids for a jog around the neighborhood, or a one-on-one basketball skirmish; anything simple enough that it would not seem too hard and at the same time fun enough for them to give it a try. With some luck, they should be hooked by the first time, or at least begin appreciating the importance of the outdoors. The next part is trickier as it involves minimizing their consumption of television/ computer. The parent needs to start placing boundaries that lie within the challenging lines of strict enough to get them to use less, but not too outrageous that they would rebel against it, or even worse, follow as hatred begins growing within them. A good start would be to set a two-hour limit on weekdays, for example. If followed properly, they should start to get bored of it and engage in much healthier activities.

It is undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges of modern parenting, but one every parent must face with their child. If tackled correctly, it should not be too much of a dilemma, though. Patience and determination are key for both parties, so that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a memory of the past.

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