If your child’s screen time becoming an issue? Maybe they’re not spending as much time with their friends or they’re choosing to stay indoors instead of spending time outside.
Limiting your child’s screen time may help them excel in school and become more aware of other people’s emotions. A recent study of sixth-graders shows that students who went five days without looking at screens were significantly better at reading human emotions than the students who were consistently using mobile devices, TVs and computers. Another study shows that smartphones can negatively influence a student’s performance in school by focusing their attention more on apps, instant messaging and music than their academic studies.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children age 3 to 18 should have their screen time limited to just two hours a day. As for children ages 2 and younger, it’s best to keep screens out of their hands all together.
So, if you decide to follow the AAP’s advice and limit your child’s screen time to just two hours or day or none at all, how are you going to navigate these waters? Your child will likely push back on the idea of giving up their screen time, so you might want to come up with a strategy instead of simply ripping the device out of their hands, which could lead to a nasty screaming match or tantrum.
Here are some ideas to point you in the right direction:
It’s best to get everyone on the same page when curbing your child’s screen time. If you create specific rules for when and how often they’re allowed to use their digital devices, everyone will know what’s expected of them. Have them read the contract and sign on the dotted line like an adult. You can also weave in some consequences in terms of what will happen if your child breaks the rules of the contract. Instead of signaling your child, make the contract a family project, so everyone agrees to follow the same set of rules.
Restricting your child to just two hours of screen time a day will help them make better use of their time online. While they may resent the idea at first, they’ll learn to use technology efficiently based on the schedule you’ve provided.
Limiting your child’s screen time will only work if you subscribe to the same philosophy. If your child sees you on your smartphone or tablet all day long, they will have trouble understanding why they aren’t allowed to do the same. Your actions will have a strong impression on your child, especially if they’re still an adolescent. Your actions will be some of their first impressions of adulthood, so make sure you’re making the right impression on your kids.
If your child sees you on your smartphone day in and day out, they’ll start to think of adulthood as one long screen session.
When you take away your child’s smartphone or computer, you can ease this often-difficult transition by filling their time with non-screen activities, such as playing sports, exploring outside, going to the park, doing arts and crafts, or arranging a play date. Leaving your child to pout in their room will usually make matters worse, so turn their screen-less time into a fun-filled adventure.
Filling your child’s time all depends on their interests and what kinds of activities they like to enjoy. If your child only wants to play video games, take a look at what kinds of games they play and find alternatives in the real-world. If they love to play e-sports, talk to them about trying out for sports at school. If they love to play “shoot ‘em up” games, sign them up for archery, hunting, or even laser tag.
Your plan for weening your child off their digital devices likely won’t work unless you and your partner are on the same page. Start by talking to your partner about your concerns regarding your child’s screen time. Then, try to come up with a solution that you can both agree on. Some parents may have different views on how to curb their child’s screen time. If your child receives mixed messages from you and your partner, they will likely choose to listen to the partner that’s telling them what they want to hear.
Keeping track of your child’s screen time can be a challenge, especially if they have a smartphone with them at all times. But you can monitor their screen time remotely using parental control apps that notify you when your child has been online for a certain amount of time.
Find these apps in the App Store to help you monitor your child’s screen time:
Keep track of your child’s screen time and come up with a meaningful way to change their habits. It all starts with having the right conversation with your child about their relationship with technology.