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Limiting screen time, child addiction to technology : Confessions of a rambling mummy

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My rude awakening occurred about a month ago. I noticed that Rachy (who just turned 4 a week ago) would get very restless when the television was not on. She constantly needed the background illuminated by the sounds of Disney Junior or the like. Her bedtime ritual suddenly also required a session for her Leap Pad and no trip to the mall was complete without her reaching for my phone to keep her busy. I kept telling myself it was ok just “this once”, that I was tired and deserved a break so I gave in – until it became a habit.

A week later, out of curiosity and in an attempt to make myself feel better, I counted up the time she spent in front of a screen, it added up to a staggering 4 hours (clearly that plan backfired)! Granted this was not purely sitting and staring at the screen, as she always is doing something else too, but that’s 3 hours too much for my personal liking!

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Suddenly it dawned on me that my little girl was becoming reliant – on technology! I had failed her (as if I needed more guilt!)

Now I am not one of those mum’s who does not let their children watch any television at all (not that there is anything wrong with it), but I have always been an advocate for limiting screen time. As someone well versed i  early childhood development and immersed in Learning and Development daily, I fully understand the effect of the flashing images on a young brain. I was in total control until the accident – when Hunky Hubby was recovering from his near fatal motorbike accident I honestly resorted to allowing her a “little” more time watching or playing games so that she would not be privy to the conversations about x-rays and physiotherapy. Then it dawned on me – I realised I was making excuses and I decided to implement change – immediately!

Honestly, 3 weeks later, its been a relatively easy journey from her side. I expected more of a battle honestly. I’m happy to announce that all that has changed now. Her birthday party consisted of a few telling moments, but I did not give her my phone and we survived!

The method to weaning her off meant I had to resolve to do a few things differently.

My phone gets put away from the moment I pick her up until she goes to bed. Too much of a distraction and she is more prone to demand Peppa Pig if she sees it.

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Her after school routine is longer and includes a snack, an arts and craft activity  or game, dinner, bike ride or trampoline fun, a shower and bedtime story followed by my method to end “bedtime tantrums” that has her sleeping in less than 30 minutes.

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I have stopped saying “I’m tired” and accepted the fact that I’ll rest when she’s 18!

She sleeps better, wakes better, he tantrums seem better even (I’ll let you know by the weekend if this lasts).

All in all, I feel better about doing better! And I’ve got those 3 hours back and converted them into memory making moments. She still gets her 15min during brekkie and her 30min during dinner so there’s a balance, but my television is no longer a babysitter!

Good luck everyone, life sometimes just happens!

K

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