Screens are practically everywhere and can keep our children busy, yet we don’t want them to have too much screen time. Limiting screen time for kids isn’t always easy and can be challenging. And to complicate matters, some screen time can be educational for children as well as it can support their social development.
According to Mayoclinic.org, unstructured playtime is more valuable for a young child’s developing brain than electronic media. Children younger than 2 are likelier to remember information from a live presentation than from a video.
Here are a few tips parents can use to decide how much screen time is reasonable for their kids:
Practice Healthy Screen Use
Parents are the key role models for screen usage for their kids. Binge Watching, keeping the TV on for background noise, or simply scrolling through your phone may not be good examples of good screen-related behavior. Remember that kids imitate what they see!
Educate Yourself on Electronics
Kids nowadays are tech-savvy, not to mention fast learners! They can quickly know more about electronics than adults. Parents must be updated on the latest apps, games, social media platforms, and trends.
Establish “Technology-Free Zones”
Parents should establish zones in the house where electronics are not allowed. A perfect example would be the dining room or kitchen, which should be reserved for enjoying meals and family conversations. Use dinner time as a time to unplug and to allow the family to spend thoughtful quality time.
Use Parental Controls
Now, tools are readily available to protect your kids from accessing explicit content on the Internet and TV. Many also allow you to block specific websites, web searches, or even keywords. Always remember to stay up-to-date with what your child watches or plays!
Discuss Why You’re Limiting Screen Time
Children are intelligent. If they would understand why you’re limiting screen time, they’re more likely to follow the rules you will set. If they think you’re just being mean to them, it will be more possible to break the rules.
Just ensure that every family member is included in the discussion about screen time, and they take part in setting the boundaries everyone can follow.
Encourage Other Activities
Encourage your child to seek out and get involved with activities that don’t need a screen. They can play outside, read books, start drawing and coloring, or play board games.
A schedule where they can see when their screen time is could also be helpful. Making it clear to your kids when they are allowed and not allowed on screens will help clarify expectations and prevent arguments.
Make Screen Time a Privilege
Reward or privileges, call them what you will, but it can be an excellent way to help your child adapt to a screen time routine. But, once you’ve set a specific time limit, don’t allow kids to earn extra time as a reward. Stick to a daily limit and offer other rewards to reinforce positive behavior.
With a bit of forethought and preparation, you can give your child the encouragement they need to adjust to their screen time routine. Always remember to be consistent and practice what you preach!