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May 2022

Screen addiction TOI 30th November 2021 RamG Vallath
Screen addiction TOI 30th November 2021 RamG Vallath 635 454 ramgi@user

Over the last two months, I have delivered fourteen parenting webinars and coached over 2000 parents on how to handle some of their most vexing parenting challenges using principles of Active Parenting. In pre-webinar surveys administered to these parents, the biggest issue that came up was screen addiction of children. Let me share the Active Parenting approaches that can help in mitigating this problem. 

A Powerful Addiction

The Screen — TV, tablet or phone — all deliver visual and auditory overload to the senses. They also have content designed to hook one’s attention. This is why screen addiction is very real and difficult to overcome. This can lead to lack of focus, poor health, poor social skills and emotional outbursts. Here are some dos and don’ts to ensure children do not get addicted.


1. Set clear boundaries on screen time. Preferably nil screen time till the age of five and very limited time thereafter till high school

2. Create alternate entertainment for children through engaging experiences. Preferably family experiences and activities

3. Take the trouble to explain in detail the reason for the restriction

4. Role model screen abstinence by reducing your own screen time and spend that time with children in fun activities


1. Do not thrust the boundaries down their throat without detailed explanation of the rationale

2. Do not ever use screen time as a diversion for feeding the children in infancy or childhood

3. Do not give in to tantrums if children demand to be allowed more screen time. Be firm with the boundaries

4. Do not micromanage children’s lives in any aspect. Give them as much autonomy as possible so that they believe you aren’t unfairly controlling

Shared Fun Activities Hold the Key

In order to keep children engaged and away from the screen, parents will need to be creative and invent fun family activities. Apart from engaging the children, these also help in strengthening the bond of friendship between parents and children. The stronger the bond and the trust that comes with it, the easier it would be to set boundaries.