Screen time use during pandemic: Doctors share tips
Several doctors gave tips on how the family can help limit the screen time especially during this pandemic.
Erik_Lucatero via Pixabay

Screen time use during pandemic: Doctors share tips

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) - February 18, 2021 - 1:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Our gadgets have undoubtedly served as our lifeline during this pandemic. It has helped the children with their online learning. Many working age adults, including parents and guardians, use it both for their work-from-home setup as well as learning new tricks for home improvements. The family also use it for general entertainment after taking the break from school and work.

While these have become quite handy tools for many, staying glued to our mobile phones, laptops and desktops for too long have been proven to pose serious health and psychological threats, which include exposure to the harmful blue light emitted by the devices and addiction to games.

Several doctors gave tips on how the family can help limit the screen time especially during this pandemic.

1. Know the purpose of using the gadget.

"Before pandemic, there have already been issues about the use of gadgets but because we've now shifted to online learning, there are (those) accessing it through screens. The experts are now focusing more on instead of quantity, we should address quality. For example, where do you want the screen? See the difference between just scrolling through social media on the latest fads versus actually using as a means to communicate," shared  Dr. Kenneth Ross Javate, Fellow of Philippine Psychiatric Assocation and Philippine Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, during a recent webinar.

2. Set the time for using the gadget.

Both doctors Sheila Hocson, program director for Heads Up PH, and Dr. Adelaida Gines, President of the Philippine Guidance and Counselling Association, agreed that one should make a routine and set time for using the gadget.

"It's important that we are friendly to our children but it is important to back it up with firm discipline. If we don't want our children to have the tendency to be addicted, set the usage time for the screens," advised Dr. Hocson.
Dr. Gines added, "'Yung paggamit ng socmed, ang mga magulang muna dapat may self-discipline so that their children will emulate. Set the time. That would be one. Ano ba 'yung purpose? Kailangan ba talaga? On top of communication, we need to have daily routine so that they would not have a dull moment to spend for social media."

3. Introduce a system for reinforcement and reward.

This is in relation to setting time. Dr. Gines explained how this works: "If they will be able to do whatever agreement they have with the family, then the elders can grant the child or children additional 20 minutes with their gadgets kung nagawa nila 'yung mga agreement nila. That's what we call reinforcement and reward and I'm sure they're going to appreciate it."

4. Do quality interaction and connection with the family.

"[Provide] quality interaction and connection with family members especially there's physical distancing now. It's also important to give them diversion and creative activities. If we open our minds and eyes, there are a lot things that they can do inside the house," shared Dr. Rhodora Andrea Concepcion, President of Philippine Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

5. Be creative and get each family member involved with the activities.

While kids can be distracted or asked to clean their rooms or do their share of household chores instead of being glued to their gadgets, Dr. Maria Annette Bautista, Life Fellow of Philippine Psychiatric Association and Philippine Neurological Association, shared that there are more engaging ways to discourage prolonged screen time.

"It's difficult to just tell them there are things they can do inside the house like go clean their rooms. X na yan sa kanila. What we can do is blend in using of gadgets. There are online games that are more like family-oriented, mystery-solving games. You can do it with families in the province or overseas. They can also shift to board games like Clue. So, for a tleast an hour or two, they're offline. These are suggestions lang to blend in the use of gadgets. And of course, Netflix party," she shared.

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