As a parent, how do you balance your child’s screen time with other activities? YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has found a solution in taking away her kids’ phones in times of battle over screen time.
In an interview recently, the mother was quoted as saying that she make sure her five children learn to focus on the “present”. Children need to be taught to divide their time effectively and understand when they need to be “focused in the conversation, and when it is okay to go and watch videos or do other activities on the internet,” according to her.
“I have times when I take away all my kids’ phones, especially if we’re on a family vacation because I want people to interact with each other…We spend as much time as other parents taking their phones away from our kids, saying, ‘No phones at the dinner table’!” Wojcicki expressed.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), children below five years of age should not be allowed screen time for more than an hour. Excessive screen time impacts one’s physical and mental health, affecting their sleep pattern and quality, brain health while increasing the risk of obesity due to lack of physical activity, among other issues.
Part of the problem also lies in how parents expose their kids to smartphones and computers at a young age to keep them occupied, so much that kids today spend more “alone-time together” where they are at home with parents but are alone. And if things go wrong, the child may end up getting addicted to the screen, alienating him or her from friends and family members.
Wojcicki suggests children should not be given phones before they are at least 11 years old. They need to be educated about online etiquette and screen time challenges around middle school. And while parents regulate screen time, they need to spend more quality time with their kids, away from their phones, in productive ways.