Parents share their screen time management tips...

I run my own business so I have some flexibility with time and am able to help my wife at home during our children’s online classes. We make sure that they are seated at the dining table where we can peek at their screens and monitor to see what they are doing every now and then. Kids will be kids, so if they are unsupervised, they would probably be on YouTube or browsing the Internet, instead of paying attention to their teachers. So it is our responsibility to ensure that they are focused. Our children are aged 11, eight and five. From 8am to 2pm, they learn on their devices. Some days, my daughter, who is the eldest, has to get back online for tuition classes. During the short breaks in between their six to seven hours of being glued to the screen, my daughter likes to chat with her mother while the boys play football. After classes, they either watch some television shows, join in our exercises or just nag their parents to death. Now that the year-end exams are over and school holidays have begun, we let them use the tablets for leisure but usage time is strictly controlled. Initially, they used to get hooked on their tablets and it was very difficult to communicate with them. Drastic measures were taken and they were all banned from using their devices. This got them onto other habits such as reading, playing games and sports. It was one of the best decisions we made. Now my children are quite disciplined with their gadgets. If they are allowed an hour on their gadgets, they switch them off when it’s time to do so. If they throw tantrums, they will not be allowed screen time the next day.

Managing director and managing editor Gunaprasath Bupalan, 42

There are times when my son, 16, and daughter, 12, are too focused on their devices until they are not aware of their surroundings. My wife and I try to limit their screen time and engage in conversation with them while they are on their devices. We would also sometimes watch whatever they are watching and turn it into a family affair. They will put away their devices if told to. I don’t have to monitor what is going on during lessons. My son is very disciplined in terms of his school work. He is independent and liaises with the school for all his virtual classes. The younger one needs a bit more encouragement and we need to make sure she gets up on time for her online classes and hands in her homework. On normal school days, we limit their use of the devices and when the exams draw nearer, the time is shortened. My wife and I get them to do household chores and encourage them to bake, cook and prepare meals by themselves just so they wouldn’t spend so much time on their devices. Some of their favourite activities include drawing and colouring.

Book publisher Sheikh Faisal Sheikh Mansor, 46

Only my youngest, aged 12, is still in school and I monitor what she’s doing when she’s on her laptop. The laptop is usually set up in the dining area so I am aware of what is going on. I also teach her myself as there are limitations to online classes. I know her teachers are trying their best to make the lessons interesting but I have to monitor her progress and at times, I do give her extra revision. Neither she nor my other two children who are in their early 20s, are hooked on their devices but I am worried about their eyesight as they are still exposed to a lot of screen time. I restrict my youngest daughter’s usage by telling her to put her laptop away after a certain period. My children help me at home, read, play with the dog or spend some time outdoors at the park when they are not on their devices.

Homemaker Visalatchi Supramaniam, 48

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