Introducing your kids to technology at an early age has many advantages since even elementary students use computers at school. However, too much screen time has been linked to lower academic scores and negative behavior in young children. While it may seem hard to strike the perfect balance, you can successfully manage your child’s screen time by using these five simple strategies.
It is impossible to know how much screen time your child is experiencing if you are not able to see them using their electronic devices. For this reason, your first step is to set up a docking station in a common area of your home such as the kitchen or living room. This way, you can quickly glance to see if your child is using their smartphone or computer. If you are worried that your child may still slip by and use their devices at night, keeping them in your bedroom can ensure they do not stay logged on after bedtime.
Establish Clear Limits
House rules are essential for making it clear when kids can and cannot access their devices. Spend a few minutes deciding upon how much screen time you think is appropriate. As you do so, consider rules such as turning off all devices during dinner or family nights. You may also limit the use of devices until after your kid has completed all of their homework. Once you have your rules established, put them in writing and give a copy to your kid to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Set Up Parental Controls
Parental controls make managing screen time easy, yet many parents forget that they are available. Begin by looking at the device to see how much control the platform offers you without having to add additional apps. For many families, just having a password-protected automatic shut-off after a certain time is reached is enough. Yet, you can also find apps and third-party programs that can give you additional options if it is necessary.
Make Screen Time Family Time
It may be tempting to get some work done while your kid is occupied by what’s happening on their screen, yet electronic devices should not be used as babysitters. Instead, consider jumping in on a video game or help your kid research their latest interests on the computer. By doing so, you can turn screen time into a learning experience that enhances your kid’s understanding of technology.
Provide Tech-Free Activities
When kids have a variety of fun activities available, they will be less likely to turn to their screens out of boredom. Fill a family room cabinet up with enticing board games, and plan a family bike ride or walk after dinner. This will not only help you avoid the dreaded claims of boredom, but it will also teach your children to enjoy other activities that do not involve electronics.
Managing screen time is an essential parenting strategy that will minimize the negative effects of too much technology. As you implement these strategies, remember that you should also model appropriate use of devices so occasionally shut yours off and enjoy being in the moment with your kids. While it may take some time for your kids to adjust to the limits, it will pay off when they embrace spending tech-free time together as a family.