Mantra for Breaking Screen Time

Ofcom’s 2016 report on screen usage showed that people spend more time online than sleeping . This is because, online world is a part of people’s everyday lives. Social networks, news updates, instant messaging, games: internet provides us with constant activity but silently the new age technology is consuming our relationships: my relationship with myself and with family, friends, and society.

Digital dependency in our lives

  • It can affect your relationships with friends and family: 40% of people in one study said they felt ignored by a friend or relative whose attention was entirely on their smartphone a day.
  • Lack of sleep can lead to health problems, make you moody or reduces your concentration level
  • Using smartphones before going to bed can delay your sleep by at least an 2 hours

Consequences of Excessive Screen Time

There are over 200 peer-reviewed research studies have correlated screen time with  disorders like ADHD, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Besides there are common problems such as obesity, social activities, lack of sleep, speech delays,  poor social skills, and investing less family time. Finally it takes a toll on a mental health.

Screens hyper-stimulate kids and create what’s called “mood deregulation.” A screen-tethered, mood-deregulated child would be a child….

  • who is moody and throws fits,
  • who has attention problems and can’t focus
  • who can get aggressive when their devices are taken away.

World has started responding to this cause as an immediate concern. Chinese Health Organization (CHO) has called “Internet Addiction Disorder” as one of the leading medical problems in China, with an estimated 20 million screen-addicted Chinese youth, while South Korea has over 400 tech-addiction rehab centers.

Symptom of Screen addiction in kids

  1. Your child can’t control their screen use

This is “unsuccessful control,” when children have trouble stopping using devices. Even if parents impose limits on screen time, the child fails to deal with this limiting rule and  this is an issue itself.

  1. Loss of interest in other activities

Only thing that motivates/ interests the child is the screen use. All other items and activities like reading books, listening to music, playing with toys and engaging in sports don’t get them excited at all.

  1. It preoccupies their thoughts

Even if the child is not using screen, he/she’s talking about screen usage in various ways. Even in a group of friends more time is spent using screen instead of playing, discussing school or simple conversation.

  1. It interferes with socializing
  • Bringing a phone to the dinner table.
  • Looking at the mobile even if somebody is trying to make conversation.
  • Involved in the cell phone when you are out for dinner, movie, or a family get together or vacation.
  • Not interested in a telephonic conversation with family and friends instead run with mobile phone

When screens interfere with family activities, they could be problematic.

  1. A screen is their mood booster
    If your child comes home after a bad day at school and needs a TV show or game to make him feel better or offer an escape, researchers say it could be a sign of screen addiction.
  2. They’re deceptive about it
    If your child is sneaking a tablet into bed at night or lying about how long they’ve been playing a video game, this is a red flag. 
  1. Your child shows signs of withdrawal
    When it’s time to turn off the TV for bedtime or put mobile devices away for vacation, family get together, or free family time and your child gets frustrated, they may actually be experiencing withdrawal

Role of Parents as a Team

‘Limiting screen time’ is a task which will give best results when parents work together.  So, its essential that partners work with each other first. They must have same understanding about setting rules and following strategies to handle this issue. Parents should be united before the house rules are presented before the children.

Various studies have referred that inter parent conflict only expose our children to unregulated usage of screen. Children, whose parents aren’t together, this can be more difficult. So it’s important to be united for the mental well being and health of your child.

Parents are the Role Model

It’s difficult to encourage your children to cut down on the time they spend on screen if they see you constantly updating your Facebook status or checking electronic gadgets. If the focus is to modify their screen time use, its helps the most when you do the same.

Especially telling your children to shut off their electronics while you’re sitting in front/ or with the electronic gadget, isn’t likely to be effective. With older children it will only make them stubborn and devalue any rules which you plan for the family.  Children will learn more from what you do than what you say.

Let your children see you make the choice of between checking the score of a game instead of responding to Google/ Facebook/ Whats App notifications. Show them how you have learned to treat media as a privilege

Unplug your child


Take a moment and think of some of the activities you enjoyed in your growing days and how it would be different today. Don’t let your child miss out on those opportunities.

Younger children

With younger children, it’s easy for parents to suggest family days out or activities together that don’t involve technology. Physical activities such as these not only enforce time away from screens but are beneficial for your child physically and socially as well.

As children get older, their lives become more independent from you. Then it becomes difficult for you to control what they do all the time however you can always encourage them to pursue activities away from their screens,. In such condition a D2 method works the best: Dialogue and Discuss. It is essential to have a planned detailed discussion with them describing:

The activities could be followed are:

Individual activity

  • Colouring
  • Playing sport/ Making a local sports group
  • Learning a musical instrument/ Making a local drama group
  • Involve children in some RWA / community activities where they can be can delegated some  activities like : cleaning the society on every 2 Saturday. This will result  things:
    • Give sense of importance,
    • Outdoor activities
    • Have more social interactions
  • Making a plan to call grand parents/ family members on weekly basis to check their health, wishing them on occasions,

How to use D2 method

We must use ‘Dialogue and Discuss’ method to introduce the ‘ House Rule’ for  limiting screen time in the family. D2 method is a complete adult to adult conversation instead of an adult to child conversation. The discussion should be not be instructive in nature, where children feel that indirectly they are being told that they are undisciplined, non obedient, immature. Wherein both the parties: parent and children become 2 confronting groups instead of a team. As a result the complete objective of limiting screen time in the family dilutes. So adopt a modified style of adult conversation.  

Steps to follow

  • Which practices as a parent both of you dislike
  • What kind of changes you want to implement
  • How do they feel about it (Discuss yes and no situation in detail)
  • Include them in making a House Rule Guide
  • Also kind of steps will be taken if the same is not followed

Avoid and follow:

  • Avoid accusation, blaming,
  • Use discussion which could change the situation rather
  • Aviod heated arguments
  • Have fun in the discussion
  • Quote incident when screen time use has hurt you as a parent and also check if children has felt the same some time.

This will help to get parent and children in the same platform and the reason for setting House rule will a want of both the parties.

House Rule Guide

Establish clear rules about electronics

Most children, especially younger teens, aren’t mature enough to handle their electronic gadgets. Establish rules that will keep your teen safe and help your children make good choices with video games, cell phones, TVs, and computers.

*Examples of good rules*:  include having a set time when screens need to be turned off at night and removing screens from bedrooms.

Rule 1: Don’t allow electronics during mealtime

Shut off your TV/ electronics gadgets during mealtimes and don’t allow text messaging or web surfing while you’re eating. Instead, use the opportunity to talk about your day. Don’t let screens cheat your family out of this priceless time.

Rule 2: Hold Family Meetings

Schedule a family meeting to discuss screen time use. Allow your teen to give input about the screen time rules. Address problems and problem-solving together. Make it clear that you want everyone in the family to develop a healthy relationship with electronics.

Rule 3: Share list of family chores among child

Make a Family chores responsibility card even if you have multiple help available at home. This helps them to take responsibility and also takes away screen time. However few could be chosen and should be followed diligently. None of these activities take more than 5- 10 minutes a day.

  • setting dining table,
  • doing bed,
  • folding clothes,
  • filling water bottle

And add your imaginative rules as well….


There could be various disagreements about the level of severity, definition of addiction however its certainly an alarming stage. As a parent this cannot be just a subject of family conversation rather it should be addressed. In such cases its essential to take help of a coach or counselor depending on the condition of the child.

It’s clear that excessive screen time is damaging our children academically and from both a physical and psychological standpoint. The most worrying part as a parent is , our children are missing many activities which are important in nurturing Human with emotions.

Let’s remember

Every child is unique so as parent’s behavior and the family environment.  Hence as a parent we must have a kitty of  tools to ‘Limit the screen time’.  We parents can teach our children to use these screens as an asset which is a privilege rather than a right that is detrimental.

‘Last Minute Syndrome’

‘Last Minute Syndrome’ is a condition in which we tend to push the tasks closer to
the finishing time with some self-validating reasons however it often creates chaos
and stress in our life. In return this gives birth to a crucial behavioural problem of
‘Procrastination’ which is an enemy of Time Management.
The Latin word, ‘Pro’ meaning “in favour of” and ‘Cras’ meaning “tomorrow”. It is
defined therefore as “The act or the habit of delaying or putting things off’. No doubt
it is a one way ticket to stress, guilt and overwhelm.
There are certain common symptoms which are often seen in people suffering from
this syndrome are:
1. Frequently texting friends/family at the last minute to cancel plans, often once
the person has already reached the scheduled location.
2. Frequently canceling plans with friends/ family simply because something else
has come up.
3. Frequently texting that you are “running late.”
4. Failing to show up on time at social functions, get together, parties
5. Last minute shopping for a long-planned vacation
6. Consistently leaving plans “loose” or unconfirmed until at the last minute.

Let me share a funny story, which I read in Shamim Rafeek’s website, which he
beautifully linked with procrastination.

It’s the story of a turtle family. The family consists of Dad, Mom and the Baby turtle.
The Baby turtle was very lazy and always postpones anything and everything assigned
to him.
One day Mom, Dad and Baby turtle go on a picnic. When they arrive at the park, it
appears that it’s about to rain. Mom turtle asks Baby turtle to run home and get an
umbrella so that they can enjoy the picnic as planned, rain or shine.
Baby turtle as always said, " No I can't go, why don't you go and get it? ". Dad turtle
got annoyed and gives the Baby turtle an angry look. With a pale face Baby turtle
finally said, “If I go home and get the umbrella, do you promise you won't start lunch
without me?” Mom turtle assures Baby turtle that they will wait for him before eating.
With this confirmation, Baby turtle leaves. Ten minutes go by and Baby turtle has not
returned. An hour passes. A full day. Neither Mom or Dad turtle have eaten anything

and become very hungry. They wonder what is taking Baby turtle so long, and hope he
is okay.
Finally, Mom turtle says to Dad turtle, “Well, he hasn't come back yet. We might as
well eat something.” At which point Baby turtle pokes his head out from behind a tree
and screams, “If you eat, I won't go! I know you will do this, that's why I was hiding
and watching what you will do! ”

Moral :
It’s a silly story, but there is some important message in this story. The lesson is in
the fact that Baby turtle reminds many of us and our habit of procrastination. His
mom told him they would wait for him, but he chose to hide behind a tree and take
rest. He wasted everyone’s time, and ruined the picnic that was planned, all because
he was lazy and did not take the action required of him.
Why do we procrastinate?
It usually when we have a list of activities and we are unable to choose the order of
the task needs to done in respect of its importance and urgency. Moreover we also
want to avoid certain activities due our habit of laziness, fear to do the task, disliking
the task.
Brian Tracy’s best seller book, "Eat That Frog", gives us various tips to stop
procrastination. He says, our " frog " is our biggest, " most important task ", the one
we are most likely to procrastinate on if we don't do something about it.

Rule 1: if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first! This is another
way of saying that if we have two important tasks before us, start with the
biggest, hardest, and most the important one first.

Rule 2: if we have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it
for very long!
There is a list of tools which will enable you to come out of this ‘Last Minute
Syndrome’. Enjoy them…..


Reflection Tool 

Past, present and future, time is the one commodity we can’t get enough of, and money can’t buy. This tool will help you to know yourself and your thought pattern regarding ‘Time’.

Now stop and ask yourself:

  1. What do I really mean when I say “I don’t have enough time?”
  2. How does time move faster for you as you get older?
  3. If you could improve your time management skills, what would you like to do differently?


Self Introspection Tool

What matters in your life?

Managing your time – and using the tools – depends very much on what is

important to you. Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 ‘Begin with the End in Mind’ reminds us to look at what we want to achieve in life before we set off to plan for it.

It is useful to look at the different areas of your life.
For eg:

  • List each area in your life or use the suggested areas in this table.
  • For each area, name the roles you play g. in Family you may be a parent as well as a spouse and a child
  • For each role, write what you want (your goals)
  • Finally, to achieve what you want, break it into small tasks you need to carry out
  • Look at the example in this table.



Area Which roles matter to


What do you want to achieve? What project(s)

support this goal?







I am a Daughter


I want to support my parents as they get older and show my

appreciation to them

Create occasions to spend time together


·         Plan for the future and have difficult conversations

·         Organize  Diwali  dinner this year

I am a mother
I am a Wife
I am a Grand Mother
I am my own







I am a Team member

on Project A



I make valuable contributions which get me noticed

List areas where I can make a contribution and list my skills


·         Have monthly meetings with my manager to discuss my interests, achievements an opportunities

·         Run weekly project status updates with entire team

·         Develop project management skills through courses and on-the-job experience

I am colleague
I am manager


Approach of Time Management

There are two different approaches to time management. One approach is how to squeeze more activities out of the time available.

A second approach shows how to enjoy and savor the time you have in order to enjoy your life.

Whichever approach you choose, the steps described here are practical and time proven. They’ll help you if you put them into action.

Natural Time Rhythm Tool:

This is a self discovery tool is will help you understand your natural time rhythm. Peak productive times and rhythm is different for each of us.

Rate Yourself as:

  1. I love the morning, I get up with lots of energy and I do my best work before noon but then I take a break in the afternoon.
  2.  I love to work in the evenings. Mornings are tough for me – it’s hard for me to get up and get going but I do my best work in the afternoon or evening.
  1. If I have an important project to do, I always try to do it:
  1.  First thing in the morning
  2.  After lunch
  3.  In the late afternoon
  4.  In the evening
  5.  In the very early morning hours
  1.  If I could set my own work day, I’d work from:
  1. 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  2. 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  3. 2:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  4. 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  5. 6:00 – 11:00 p.m.
  6. 9:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m.
  7. 11:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m.
  8. Other


Some of us are morning people – we are the most productive in the morning. If this is the case, then schedule your most important things in the morning hours. Others are owls – we love to get our work done late at night. If you’re an owl, schedule your most important jobs and thinking activities in the evening