While unlimited time with electronics may keep your child busy, and parents get to enjoy their me-time, you don’t want your child to have too much screen time.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hybrid and distance learning models, many children are incorporating more screen time into their school day. That’s why it’s more important than ever to reduce the use of electronic the rest of the day.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommendations for an acceptable amount of screen time are:
• No screen time for children under 2
• One hour per day for children 2 to 12
• Two hours per day for teens and adults
Here are 5 tips parents can use to manage screen time with kids:
Model Healthy Electronic Use
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.
Set Aside Times to Unplug
Set aside times for your whole family to unplug from their technological devices. Dinnertime or an hour before bedtime are two examples. When you all agree to set aside your devices, it gives your family the opportunity to spend thoughtful, quality time together.
Use Parental Controls
There are tools you can use to protect your kids from accessing explicit content on the Internet and on TV. Most routers, web browsers, and TVs have parental controls that you can set up to filter or block unwanted content.
If your kids have smartphones, there are also built-in settings or apps you can download that allow you to create content filters. Many also allow you to block specific websites, web searches, or even keywords.
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 videogames, TV shows, and movies can be harmful. If your kids use the Internet, make sure you have a conversation with them about the dangers of online predators.
Make sure that every member of your family is included in the discussion about screen time and is part of creating a set of boundaries that everyone can follow.
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.
Consider this post a general framework for screen time. If it’s important to you, if you’ve noticed it’s time for a screen time change, you can do this.