This new generation has little or no knowledge of life without screens. Take my 7-year-old son for example; yesterday he began arguing with me for not allowing him to finish watching a DIY video on YouTube despite me repeatedly telling him that the video is going nowhere. It will be there tomorrow where he found it today.
The argument began because I generally aim to reduce screen time for my kids as much as possible. And then the old-school mom in me continued by adding how lucky he is to be born in this era where he can watch what he wants when he wants. Because back when we were kids, or even when his elder sister was tiny, we had to watch a show when it aired on television. We couldn’t change its timing or watch it whenever we wanted – like we can today.
Speaking of wanting to watch what we want to watch, I sometimes have this fear that unwanted advertisements may appear while my kids are watching their videos. Till now I haven’t come across any weird ads but you never know. Also, my kids are 7 and 11, so I’m generally close by while they use devices.
However, I can only monitor their activities online and reduce screen time while I’m physically around them. I used to wonder how I can make sure that they don’t come across inappropriate promotions or are off the devices on time when I’m NOT around them. But now, I found an excellent solution for this and can’t wait to tell you about the Happinetz box.
However, first, let’s talk about why it’s so important to reduce screen time for kids.
As mentioned earlier, I always aim to reduce screen time for my kids. Here are a few reasons why you should, too:
Kids who have electronic devices kept next to them in their bedrooms are said to get less sleep than those who leave the devices in another room at night. Continuous texting also causes sleep deprivation in kids. If we do not reduce screen time, especially for kids, we have to be ready to handle the above negative effects of the same.
It’s always good to have meals without the screens. Not only will the kids understand that mealtime is family time, but they will also understand what they are eating. I feel it is very important that kids know what to eat, how to eat without a mess and appreciate the food that is in front of them.
Playing with other kids enhances social skills, develops self-discipline and self-confidence, reduces impulsive behaviour, etc. Therefore, it is very important that kids meet and play with other kids most of the time instead of sticking their heads into screens. Kids with siblings can play board games or any other offline games with their siblings at home.
Today’s kids and teens are easily bored. Generally, when our son asks us, ‘What should I do? I’m bored!”, we would give him the mobile without thinking. Once we realized what he was smartly doing on purpose, we began to tell him to go play with the numerous board games at home or just sit and get bored for some time. We saw that as kids are not able to sit in one place, they ultimately find a friend or thing to play or spend time with. A lot of their creativity is seen during this time. They begin using their imagination and thinking like a human.
Many parents use this method to reduce screen time, keep their kids busy, improve sports or athletic activities, develop physical fitness, etc. Some of the activities that keep the brain and body active are swimming, cycling, tennis, hula hooping, running, yoga, dance, etc. so it’s wonderful if you’re able to enroll your kids in such classes or send them to play football, cricket, badminton, hockey, volleyball, etc. with other kids.
The above-mentioned tips to reduce screen time may not always be the answer to keep your kids away from prolonged use. After mealtime, playtime with kids, hobby classes, etc., the kids are mostly at home. Their home is their comfort zone. So, establishing clear rules for screen time is extremely important at home.
One way is to watch and be around to stop them when their time is up. The second is to do this despite not being around or yelling at them every single day. What if I tell you that you can reduce screen time on their devices with Happinetz?
The Happinetz box is a device that allows me to monitor my children’s online activities, reduce screen time and restrict certain websites from popping up. I can also disconnect their internet connection to reduce screen time if the need arises without being physically present. Am I a mean mom or what?
Even if you are not tech-savvy, you will be able to use this easily, provided the initial connections are done right. After connecting the home router to the Happinetz Box with the cables provided, you will have to first connect your smartphone to the Happinetz connection available under WiFi connections. Then download the Happinetz app and create an account. Once the app connects to the box, you’re ready.
Take your child’s device and ‘Forget all Networks’ individually, remove ‘MAC randomization’ and disable ‘Join other Networks’. Basically, you are preventing that device from searching and connecting to other networks as you only want it to be connected to Happinetz at all times. Then back to your smartphone, go to the Happinetz app and add the children’s devices.
There are three modes – Kid, Teen and Adult. Each mode comes with default settings for filtering content that can be configured (through blacklisting or whitelisting specific websites and apps) if need be. Also, if a device is shared between multiple people, you can easily switch the mode (on the app on your smartphone) depending on who is using it.
Currently more than 110 million websites and apps are being monitored and tracked by the system and more than 22 million adult and unsecured ones are blocked by default.
I also have the added advantage of being able to check ‘Insights on device usage’ and what content my children are spending time on.
There are several ways of reducing screen time for our kids, but most of them need us to be present or be available to carry out the same. Picking and dropping them to their classes, organizing playtime, yelling at them with warnings, etc. but with Happinetz I’m relaxed knowing that my kids are safely on their screens which will stop working once the screen time allotted has lapsed.
PS: They should not switch to other networks on their devices. So keep your home WiFi connections password-protected.
All the best.
What steps do you take to restrict screen time at home?