Observation, analysis and plan of action.
This is how I found out why my child is addicted to the TV, mobile and iPad and what I did about it.
I tried to closely observe my son’s behavior at the moment when he was in front of the TV, mobile or iPad. I also observed him after he finished his screen time and also on days on which he hardly got exposed to the screen.
While watching TV:
- My son entered an entirely different world altogether and forgot his surroundings completely.
- He showed complete readiness to sit on the chair or lie down on the bed or sit on the floor or stand or even hang upside down to watch TV!
- There was complete acceptance towards all types of food items be it milk (which he otherwise hates), bitter gourd, black pepper or even medicines.
- TV shows targeted at adults didn’t interest him at all. But cartoons, especially monsters, dinosaurs, unboxing videos, and random animated stuff interested him.
- Animated mythological characters like Shiva, Chhota Bheem and Little Krishna (who are ideally supposed to inspire kids to lead an ideal human life) subconsciously pushed him to do somersaults, jump on sofas, kick and punch and hit people.
- He didn’t mind skipping his much needed afternoon naps.
After watching TV:
- My son looked exhausted, disinterested, cranky and lost temper easily.
- The couch in front of the TV became his new dining chair.
- Disinterest in playing at home with any of the family members and reluctance in going outdoors to play became common.
- Bedtime usually got delayed just because he wanted to finish his game or cartoon show.
- A negative influence on his language was evident.
- Occasionally got nightmares too.
On days on which he didn’t watch TV at all:
- My son found the bandwidth to pay attention to other things in life.
- He wanted to step out of the house for varied activities and play.
- Ate mindfully.
- Wasn’t hyperactive, cranky and disobedient.
- Was a gentler and more approachable child on the whole.
After observing him under three different circumstances, I began analyzing and concluded that most of his unexplained and uncalled for behavior is due to his high exposure to TV, mobile or iPad.
I then asked myself the question, “Why does he spend so much of time in front of the screen?”
Thanks to the Heartfulness practices that I follow, I am able to listen to my heart to a great extent and my motherly instinct immediately told me,
“because, ‘you’ don’t spend enough time with him!”
That was ‘the’ moment for me and I knew it all; after that!
I recalled that at times when I wasn’t available to play with him he would immediately ask me to switch on the TV or hand over to him my phone. That is when my doubt materialized even more and I realized that he wanted to watch TV or take up the mobile or iPad when none of his parents were there for him.
Isn’t it true?
I’m sure even you would agree when I say that, if parents are available to spend time with kids then no kid would ever ask for the TV, mobile or iPad. But, if parents aren’t there, then even board games seem boring, coloring activity looks dull and all other activities appear monotonous.
But by writing this, I do not intend to suggest you spend 24 hours of the day by your child’s side because even that is not recommended. (Your child needs to play with kids of his age to get appropriate exposure and also needs to play all alone for the imagination to develop.)
But, if your kid is too addicted to gadgets it could very well be a sign that he is missing out on your quality time and attention and also needs more of human interaction.
Also, by no means do I wish to say that if your child is addicted to the screen then you are a bad mother or a bad parent. There could be other reasons too for your child’s addiction and they could be equally true as well. Just that the one I mentioned above is the one I concluded after observing and analyzing my own child.
Plan of Action
- Firstly, I stopped using the screens as a babysitter. Totally stopped saying, “I’m cooking right now. Go watch some TV till I finish.” or “I need a power nap. Why don’t you play one level of your favorite game on Papa’s phone?”
- Identified situations which triggered my son’s urge of wanting to use the TV, mobile or iPad and tried to avoid those situations. For eg., If my stepping out for a walk, made him want to use the iPad, I encouraged him too to step out for a walk with me.
- Decided to not withdraw without supplying. I withdrew screen time from my son’s routine but made sure I substituted it with something equally interesting and engaging.
- Involved my son in whatever I did. Asked him to help me lay the table, walked together to the nearest store, asked him to help me dry out clothes or wash vegetables or even help me select an outfit for the next morning.
- Got a host of board games for him to play with us as a family activity.
- Planned more outdoor activities so that my child completely forgot the option of having any gadget to himself. Went for nature walks, children’s parks and play areas.
- Spent quality time with him and gave him undivided attention for at least two hours in the day.
Bringing about these changes, helped my son a lot and made a huge difference to our lives as well. After all, this was a mother’s rock solid research and analysis – there wasn’t any chance it could fail!
I hope this article helps you to diagnose why your child is addicted to the TV, mobile or iPad. I also hope that it effectively suggests what you can do about it.