TV addicts
Behaviour

TV addicts

Watching television can be fun, and most families love to watch their favourite shows. However, it is very important to monitor the television habits of our children. Learn exactly how to do that for your kids’ benefit, and help stop them becoming tv addicts.

Television has its good side. It can be entertaining and educational, and can open up new worlds for kids, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures, and gain exposure to ideas they may never encounter in their own community.

Kids typically watch a good amount of television each day. As a parent, you must supervise and monitor your children, especially what they watch and how much they watch each day. Exposure to negative or inappropriate content can have a negative impact on kids. However, television viewing can be a positive experience when parents use it as a learning tool.

Tips for how to set limits of screen time for children:

1. Determine how much screen time your children should have.

The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has the following recommendations to help:

  • For children younger than 18 months, discourage use of screen media other than video-chatting.
  • For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming and use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group.
  • For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming.

2. Decide when they get their screen time.

Once you have decided what your maximum times are, decide when they are allowed on the computer or to watch TV. Consider their schedule, and your schedule and their favourite TV shows and agree to the times together. The TV and computer are so easy to turn on, but so difficult to turn off. If you decide up front, when it is appropriate for your children to watch TV or play on the computer, it is easier for you to keep it under control and easier for them to just get it right in the first place.

AAP recommend no screens during meals and for 1 hour before bedtime.

3. Communicate when they get screen time.

If you have considered their schedule and consulted with older children on their favourite shows, it should be easy to explain why you have selected the screen times that you have.

If they have concerns or if they disagree, it is important to work with them so they understand why you are limiting their time and so they understand that they need to get the most value out of the time they spend in front of their screens. If they were included in the decision, it is much easier to get them to agree to your terms.

4. Consistently demonstrate.

Being consistent is probably the most difficult, and the important part. It isn’t fair to agree that they will only watch
30 minutes of TV during their favourite show and then park them in front of the TV whenever something comes up that you have to do. If you are serious about limiting their screen time, you need to treat it as the treat that it is and not as an electronic baby sitter.

5. Schedule time for other stuff.

Here is the best part. If you successfully limit their screen time, you free up so much time to do other things. When children are babies, from birth to two years, you or your child minder need to provide the other stimulation. If your child goes to day care, their day is mapped out. So if your child is minded at home, either by you or someone else, I recommend that you map out their day and week.
Schedule time for reading stories, doing art projects, playing games and physical activity. Find out what organised parent and child classes are in your area. Go to your local library and see what activities they have on offer, or what they know of in your area. If you start by doing all these activities with your baby, when they get older, they see the day as a gift to fill with wonderful activities, and not just an opportunity to sit on the couch in front
of the TV.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….