If we can list a number of things people do too much nowadays, screen time ought to be on the leader board. Given the opportunity, many people would be happy to spend the majority of their life alternating between watching TV and playing on mobile devices.
Many parents struggle to keep a close enough eye on their kids and screen time, thus leaving their children susceptible to media exploitation. Some people blame this problem on poor parenting, while others blame the media for betraying our trust.
At the end of the day, blaming either of these things is not helpful or constructive in finding the solution. The point to digest is that too much screen time is not good for the wellbeing of your child. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics advise that two hours of screen time is more than enough for children above the age of two – and zero is ideal for babies and toddlers less than two years old. You’ll find other guidelines for appropriate internet usage by age here. Here are six great suggestions to help out in terms of minimizing screen time for kids for a better family life.
Lead By Example
If you’re the type that can’t let a minute pass without gawping at your TV screen or laying your hands on your iPad or phone, learning to curb your own habit is key to minimizing screen time for your kids.
Here’s the thing: a greater bulk of a child’s life is based on mimicry. They mimic anything they see or hear from people or things around them, and of course you as their parent are their main point of reference. Regardless of how hard you rail against your child doing something, doing it yourself will always be interpreted as an approval. It goes back to the old and very applicable saying that actions speak much louder than words.
While your children see you watching TV or spending too much time on your phone, nothing you then say or do will be enough to keep you in control over your kids and their screen time, particularly as your children get older.
Fix A Weekday Ban
Your kids need time to do their schoolwork, participate in sports and other physical activities, and maybe help you with some chores.
That means you have to come up with a schedule that ensures that all these activities are well integrated into your weekly routine. In other words, there has to be some dedicated time when watching TV and playing electronic devices is completely eliminated from your lives. Trust me when I say you will not only survive but will enjoy the opportunity to get away from the digital world temporarily.
A simple tip would be to record weekday shows that you deem vital and slate them for the weekend. You can then use some of your weekdays for family togetherness and other activities such as games, reading, physical activities or preparing meals. Alternatively, use technology in moderation through the week, and make a weekend day void of screen time for yourself and your kids. You’ll be amazed at the difference this will make to your family life.
Watch TV With Your Child
Watching TV with your child can help you assess the appropriateness of the program and censor where necessary. If you can’t bring yourself to sit down throughout the whole program just watch the first few minutes, checking the rating and other content. This should be enough to assess if the program has any violent activity that you deem unfit for your children.
The same applies for video games, whether on i-pads, phones, tablets or DS consoles. Watching your child play their game only for a short time is a great bonding activity, and also allows you to see the benefits and downfalls of it for yourself.
Come Up With Other Fun Alternatives To Screen Time For Kids
If your children are insistent on being allowed to watch or hang around their phones, i-Pads, tablets or any other gadget, find other interesting alternatives to these gadgets. This could include onboard games such as chess or scrabble, or any outdoor game that may help you remain in control of your kids and screen time.
All things considered, there are lots of fun activities that you can use in lieu of electronic devices. Just turn off the TV and confiscate their mobile devices for short periods every now and then. We guarantee you won’t have a hard time finding something that’s more enjoyable to play with – and if you can’t think of anything, ultimately your child will use their imagination to come up with something else that’s fun to do.
Set Designated Times For Kids And Screen Time
Like most things in life, watching TV and playing electronic games is OK in moderation. If you can limit the number of
TV watching hours to not more than 2, then you are probably on the right track. Start by stocking the TV room with other forms of non-screen entertainment items such as kids magazines, books, toys, puzzles, and board games. Then encourage your children to do something else other than just sitting down for sedentary play.
It’s also important that you turn off the TV during meal times, and refrain from leaving the TV on for “background noise”. The TV set should definitely be switched off during homework time – this should be non-negotiable!
Use Screen Time To Your Advantage As A Reward
Make screen time for kids a privilege or a treat that comes with displaying the type of positive behavior you want to encourage in your children. Make it known that they’ll only be allowed to have an hour or two of screen time if they get their household chores and homework done in time, and in the right manner.
Managing Your Kids and Screen Time – In Conclusion
Screen time definitely has its place for both parents and children if used in moderation. It has its benefits in terms of education and skills, and it’s a part of everyday life in the 21st century. Utilizing the suggestions above and using screen time effectively as a reward can be a huge help in getting your children to do the things they need to do peacefully and happily, so make sure you use it to your advantage!