Garima Gupta – Breaking Screen Addiction

Breaking Screen Time Addiction
Expert Session Question & Answers

I make conscious efforts to keep my kid away from screen.But whenever he sees the screen he wants to stick to it. Then i have to either hide my phone or divert him. But i do not want this way. I have seen kids who do not prefer to pick the phone even if it’s in front of them. Can you suggest . My child is 3 years

For 3 yr old, self regulation is too tough. Not a valid expectation. They will be curious about everything. Garima Gupta – Breaking Screen Addiction question suggests that if you hide something from them, or only grown ups get to play with a certain toy (because the whole world is a toy for them) then they will be even more curious.

So you have to make sure they have a wide range of fun activities to choose from. And let the mobile or other screen be just one of the many options available to them.

My daughter is 14 yrs of age and inclined towards using instagram and watching Youtube channels having humor element

We have to make a distinction between social media and passive entertainment done via screens. While both have a negative impact, social media is way more dangerous. Due to aspects you already know- online bullying etc. but also because of the addiction factor is 10 times. Dopamine gets triggered when our posts get likes and comments on social media. This dopamine is the reward pathway of the brain. when triggered, it is like a drug. We crave more of it. Since events in real life do not trigger dopamine to such levels as social media likes, the child is unable to leave it. To break this, we must give the child social interactions. These give dopamine kicks to the child too. Laughing with people around us, talking, gossiping. All this helps break social media addiction. Plus, time in nature sounds like a desire to fit in. Please work on her self esteem. You will have to inoculate her against peer pressure now, else a lot worse habits will be picked up. If you think you can’t “make her understand” perhaps you should try to understand her. Listen a lot. Be patient.

Hear about all her friends (even if it is super boring). know the kind of atmosphere outside her, as well inside her head. Bridge the gap between you two. when you understand her better, things will improve. Bullies cannot be pleased.

Please let her know. Bullies will keep shifting the bar and frustrating you. You cannot be in good books of bullies. Plus you don’t want to be in their good books. they have to be dealt with more directly, assertively. Can involve school counselor.

How to teach discretion about screen to 11 year old ?

A lot of psychoeducation is needed. Schools too are spending time talking to kids about cyber bullying etc. So we must reinforce this message. We must show them that there are lots of troubles that these gadgets can get them into. And by limiting the use, they are simply staying away from all the trouble.Then ask them the behaviour of their classmates. And give them the right attitude towards devices. Do you feel new age phones are super cool? Then your kid will want to be cool by owning gadgets.Build their self esteem based on what they do, not what they own.Ask them what attracts them to screens? Gently shape their approach. Talk talk talk !

The challenge I am currently facing is - either I have to continuously keep my children entertained with stories or activities or else they pick up the remote or phone . Now as I am working I can’t practically sit next to them all the time.(Age of child is

Excellent point. Are we taking the responsibility of entertaining our kids? Is this something we want them to learn? NO!! We have to make our kid responsible for his/ her own health, wellbeing & growth. So it is not our job to do the hula dance for them every time they are bored. But we can help them have a list of things to do instead. So rather than just having no parking boards, let us show them where to park.Get it? Depending on the age of the child, make a list or have them draw things they love to do. When they come home from school, let them put their favourite activities into a sort of time table. Call it appointments even they love “grown up” words like this. Then screen will be just one of the things they do daily.Ultimately, remind them gently every day that you have been working on your own health, joy & growth. The child has to work on theirs. You can only be a support. They are in charge.

What is the right age to teach self regulation and how? Because once they learn this many of their things will get simpler.

At around 4-5 yrs of age self regulations can begin. Varies for children. Delayed gratification must be taught. “I will help you after 5 mins & this is the way to tell how many minutes are left (show watch or clock)” is a way to develop this.

I have two sons 16 yrs and 6 yrs respectively . 16 yrs son using Instagram and Playing games and younger one also wants to watch cartoons on youtube

16 yr old having Insta account is about par for the course in the urban India of today. The question is (1) how much time is spent on it. (2) what other sources of juice (mental) does the child have. Insta/ social media should not be the only source of kicks. Put him in contact sports of his choice/ vigorous physical activity which releases Endorphins. Let him meet people in person to develop social skills.People with good social skills can stay away from social media and interact with real life people gaming is another very tricky realm. Again a lot of dopamine plus a lot of frustration is created. First, ask your child if he has goals that he is working on? Or help him verbalise some skill etc he would like to build. Next, check on his plan about how he wishes to work on it. Establish a goal ladder with him.Steps to do to reach ultimate goal.then, ask if his gaming is somehow creating a stumbling block to his achieving his goals. Help him make a plan to self regulate how much gaming he does and when.offer your support to remind him when he exceeds his quota.ask him about his current stresses. Help him deal with his stress so he does not need the distraction of gaming. Add physically challenging items to his routine- wall climbing/ scuba lessons (we have in swimming pools in pune)/ cycling on hillsides etc. these will give thrills minus the problems of screen time.

How to inculcate the qualities of patience and persistence?

Screen is not the villain. When we mis-handle technology then there is trouble. Overdoing things. Any activity in which child is not active, any passive entertainment will make them hyper at the end of it. That is why the rule to mix it up with physical activity.

How can screen and physical activity be mixed together?

Not mixed, inter-mixed. Means, after 20 mins of rhymes on Ipad, let them dance for 20 mins. Burn off the extra energy!

For younger kids

1. Always discuss with them what they will do next after their scheduled screen time.
2. Keep it outside for them to see all the time. eg, if it is colouring then their colours and art book should be visible while they watch screen.
3. If watching tv, all ads should be muted as a rule. they have to have some blocks or something next to them to play with while ads are playing.
4. When they get fussy after a prolonged screen time, help them notice this. gently say: see how you feel grumpy if you have watched too long? how about we watch 5 mins less tomorrow and see if we feel better at the end of it. natural consequences.
5. Always have a long list of things they love to do handy. Let them have a schedule for that day where they do various things

What if You tubing (as my 14 yr old son calls it) is their plan B for career planning? Now he is in 9th std and sometimes i feel it is affecting his studies as he devotes 1-2hrs daily and more 2hrs on holidays !!

It is true. Let the child have a plan for their time. Let them schedule time when they hone skills for plan a & plan B for their career. When they do one thing to the exclusion of everything else, that is the problem. Not otherwise. We are gunning for a good balance between real social interaction + physical activity + mental growth + academics

I have 2 daughters of age 13 and 10. The elder one excels in studies while the younger one is good. however the elder one bullys the younger one a lot (but not on study matters) , keeps commenting and as a result (and may be other factors too) the younger one becomes very irritable to the extent that they start fighting in public places. They have a great time together but their fights really become irksome for the mother. What do you suggest to make the younger daughter more sombre and the elder daughter less bully some . Also the younger daughter spends a lot of screen time and doesn’t listen much. pls advice.

Looks like younger one needs some listening to. Like i said screens can be an escape mechanism. A distraction so they don’t have to deal with whatever is bothering them. At 10 you can catch her in a safety net. Not too late. And no comparing. When you talk or think about one child, just think of only that child. Not that child as compared to the other one. It is a habit to develop for you.

On screen fightings and aggression is very pleasing for kids. Kids are very impressed with films like singham etc does the screen aggression affect their real life aggression?

Yes & No. On-screen violence has been linked to more acceptance of violence in real life. But not always to more violent behaviour on the part of the child.

Is it ok to completely keep your child away from screen?

I would still say NO. I would suggest you and your child, as she keeps growing older, learn to have a healthy relationship to screens. She will need to use the internet extensively for schoolwork also. No point keeping her in a cave. Help her be stable and easy even after screen. Start by knowing what to do next. Most trouble comes from being clueless about what to do next.

Summary by Expert

1. For kids younger than 4, let them watch 20 mins at a time. with physical play between screen times.
2. Insist on time out-of-doors daily
3. Insist on time with real friends daily, even after school
4. Limit their sugar. too much sugar is responsible for a lot of bad behaviour. to deal with that we put them in front of screens.
5. Make them responsible for their own health, joy & growth. (age 6 onwards).
6. Stay away from your screens and pick up a book/ mag/ paper etc around them
7. Laugh and talk a lot to each other
8. Make your home a sanctuary where stress is low. screen times are a way of distracting ourselves from a bad atmosphere.

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Garima Gupta - Breaking Screen Addiction
Garima Gupta – Breaking Screen Addiction

Garima Gupta – Breaking Screen Addiction

She is a psychologist and happiness coach by profession, Garima Gupta is a parenting expert.  She has been coaching clients for 12 years based on holistic techniques including mindfulness, Tapping technique, Presence oriented Psychotherapy, Shadow- to- gold, etc.

Brief About Garima Gupta

Garima Gupta holds special expertise in psychology related to kids and teens as well as the role of mind and physical health.

Award winner, she has written several books, one of them being the 2019 International Book Award in Health. She is a Parenting Expert on Momspresso- India’s largest parenting portal.

Garima Gupta is a permanent member of Indian psychiatric society as well as New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology. She has received the 2018 Orange Flower Award Finalist by Women’s Web and the 2018 Readers’ Favourite 5 star among others.

The Session

Garima Gupta – Breaking Screen Addiction is the topic where she will be answering growing concern and questions from the parents.