The entire world runs on technology. From your office to your child’s classroom, everything is accessed through a screen. At such a time, entirely depriving your child of the internet would be like sending them to the stone age. However, excessive exposure to screens not only harms their eyesight or physical health, it has a negative effect on their mental health as well.
As parents, it is essential to manage your child’s screen time, especially if they are tweens or younger. In this world full of screens, it certainly is not very easy. However, with proper parenting techniques, it can be done.
Here are tips to limit your child’s screen- time.
1. Start with yourself
Kids do not listen to what you say- they observe your actions. Telling them to limit their screen- time, while working on a laptop all day will not set a good example for the child. Parents need to be role models of screen use for their kids.
Before you binge-watch your favorite Netflix series, remember that you are setting an example for your kids with your own time spent in front of a screen.
Keeping the TV on for background noise all the time or scrolling through your phone any time you have a spare minute may not be modeling the screen-related behavior you hope to see in your kids.
2. Educate Yourself on Electronics
Today’s kids are tech-savvy. Most of them know more about electronics than adults do. Parents need to stay up-to-date on the latest apps, games, and social media platforms, and trends.
For example, you can’t teach your child about the risks of social media unless you understand the dangers yourself. Likewise, you wouldn’t be able to prevent them from consuming certain types of media (such as violent video games) if you don’t understand how these forms of media are rated.
3. Create “Technology-Free Zones”
Establish zones in your house where electronics simply are not allowed—whether it’s cell phones, handheld video games, or laptops. One example is your home’s dining room or kitchen, which you could keep reserved for having meals and family conversations.
4. Explain Why You’re Limiting Screen Time
If your kids understand that you’re limiting your family’s screen time because too much time spent on screens has downsides, they’re much more likely to follow the rules you set. If your kids just think you’re “being mean,” they might be more likely to resist or break the rules you are trying to enforce.
Based on what’s appropriate for your child’s age, explain why violent video games, TV shows, and movies can be harmful.
Make sure that every member of your family is included in the discussion about screen time and are part of creating a set of boundaries that everyone can follow.
5. Encourage Other Activities
With a wealth of apps, games, devices, and content, it’s easy for kids to become reliant on electronics for entertainment. Encourage your child to seek out and get involved in activities that don’t need a screen. Playing outside, reading a book, or even digging out an old board game are just a few ideas.
It can also help to establish (and enforce) a schedule that everyone in your home follows. Making it clear to your kids when they are allowed on screens and when they are not will help to clarify your expectations and can prevent arguments.
6. Let them earn screen time.
In this day and age, kids are just handed things that previous generations would have to work for. For instance, most parents buy kids phones, just because they asked for one. At the very least, make your children do chores to earn their screen time. For younger children, ask them to straighten up their room and put their toys away. For teens, make them take out the garbage, or vacuum the living room. This teaches them that nothing is free in this life. They should know that you own the devices and they are just renting them.
7. Don’t use screens to distract or soothe kids.
If you use screens to soothe your children, one day it will begin to backfire on you. Why? Because by allowing them to use screens to calm themselves, there will come a time when they won’t be able to calm themselves without a screen. What happens when you don’t have access to technology, or when it is not an appropriate setting to use it? Total chaos, that’s what.
8. Keep Your Child’s Bedroom Screen-Free
You won’t be able to monitor your child’s screen use if they are able to use devices out of your sight.
For this reason, you might want to make it a rule that TVs, video game systems, and computers are not allowed in your child’s bedroom. This also includes handheld devices that your kids might be tempted to use late at night, which could interfere with their sleep. Keep laptops, tablets, and smartphones in a central location, like the family room. This cuts down on the temptation to use them in other parts of the house, like the dinner table or in bedrooms.
9. No screen time during homework.
Unless your kids are using the screen to complete homework, there should be no screen use during homework time. To benefit from doing homework, kids need to focus. They cannot focus on their homework if they are constantly switching from one screen to the next. In addition to having screens available for your kids, you should also keep plenty of print media on hand. This means purchasing newspapers, magazines, books, board games, etc. These items may seem like Stone Age relics to them, but they need to know that knowledge and information take lots of forms, not just electronics.
10. Be a parent, don’t worry about the outside noise.
At some point, your child will get mad at you for limiting their screen time, and report that their other friends have no such restrictions. If you are not secure in your parenting ability and the big picture, then you will think that you are depriving them of their childhood. Don’t fret. You are doing the right thing, and the results will be seen later on down the line.