- Set reasonable boundaries for screen time based on recommended guidelines from organizations like the World Health Organization.
- Approach changes in screen time rules patiently and with understanding, especially for younger children.
- Keep screens in common areas of the house to monitor usage and prevent excessive screen time.
- Regularly check in on your kids’ screen usage and consider using monitoring software or parental controls.
- Create dedicated screen-free time and provide alternative activities such as listening to stories or engaging in outdoor play.
- Find screen-free alternatives for screen activities, such as block play or music lessons.
- Set a good example by implementing screen-free time for yourself and finding alternatives to screen-based activities.
How do you effectively manage kids’ screen time? With screens being such an integral part of the household and schools, it can be hard to introduce healthy habits. Once you factor in the addictive nature of screens as well, it can make for a difficult proposition to even suggest screen-free time for your kids.
Today’s guide covers seven effective tips for managing your kids’ screen time. You don’t have to puzzle out ways to do it, nor do you have to be overly punitive. There is a way for kids to have screen time while also having healthy boundaries with said screens. If you’d like to learn more, read on for ways to best implement screen management for your kids.
Set Reasonable Boundaries
The thing to remember with apps, social media, and other online content is that it is addictive by its very nature. If content creators and developers aren’t getting eyes on their products, then that is money left on the table. However, when you look at the recommended screen limits for kids and adults, it isn’t healthy.
The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of an hour of screen time a day for kids ages 2 to 12. That goes up to two hours of screen for teens and adults alike. As such, you don’t have to set an overly strict boundary. You can gradually wean away the dependency on screens.
Look, I certainly get this one. I’ve got three children of my own, and it can be tough to manage screens. When you factor in full-time jobs on your end, it can seem daunting. However, there are a number of ways to gradually go about things. You don’t need screens to accompany every activity.
So, to start, go for reasonable boundaries that work for your household. You might have to start off with more than the recommended hour or so a day for younger kids. That’s okay though, you can scale it back as time passes.
Approach Changes Patiently
Making any sort of new guidelines or ground rules to manage kids’ screen time can be difficult to grasp. For little ones especially, it helps to try and see things from their perspective. A truly small child of about five isn’t going to have the logical reasoning skills to understand why they can’t play games on the family tablet or watch cartoons.
Instead, they’ll just see it as being denied something fun and enjoyable. As such, you want to approach things from a similar level of understanding. The best way to approach this is to talk about how it makes them feel and to model gentle language so the tantrums aren’t quite as explosive.
Yes, it will be difficult to manage. However, that is where you as a parent have to stand firm. You don’t need to explode or capitulate at the first sign of resistance. Instead, you’ll have to be patient, gentle, and firm to make any real effective changes.
It can be difficult for a small child to understand any drastic changes. If they are used to unlimited tablet time or TV time after school, having any sort of restriction in place is a big change. Tread gently, but stay firm in your decision.
Keep Screens In Common Areas
One of the most effective ways to manage kids’ screen time is to leave devices in a common area. You want this to be an area where you can see what your kids are doing. This can be a dining room, playroom, or living room, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that it needs to be an area with regular traffic where you can see your kids.
This has two benefits. The first one to look at is just being able to hold the limit with your kids. You have an eye on them using the screens, and you can set timers or other reminders. This helps to curtail runaway screen time. It is fairly easy for a child to try and circumvent rules when left unattended.
The second benefit is just being able to see what your child is doing. The web is an invaluable resource, but if they have unfettered access, that could be a bad thing. You can more closely monitor content consumption and see what they’re actually doing online. Keeping an eye doesn’t mean you have to constantly peek over their shoulder.
However, if you’re taking the time to read a book while they watch a video or play a game, you’re aware of what they’re doing. This can very much help the consumption of harmful or negative content that young eyes shouldn’t be seeing in the first place.
Check In On Screen Usage
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. However, you’ll want to regularly check in on your kids’ screen usage. This is one of the most effective ways to manage kids’ screen time. Most smartphones, tablets, and other devices have monitoring software built to let you know how long someone is on a screen.
Apple, for example, has weekly screen tips to let you know how long people are using screens. This is meant more to form healthy habits for the average user. However, when effectively used it can also serve as a sneak peek into their usage habits.
If it lacks the reporting functionality, the screen on statistics should be more helpful as a whole. It might not serve up weekly trends, but it will help to see how your guidelines are being set.
In the absolute worst-case scenario, you can work with parental control software. A savvy enough child will figure out how to circumvent controls over time. However, most parental controls have a way to place a computer, tablet, or other devices on standby after a set time.
Make Dedicated Screen-Free Time
This one seems like a no-brainer, and it really is. That said, one of the most effective ways to manage your kids’ screen time is to provide screen-free alternatives. For little ones who love those popular videos where someone reads a book aloud, you have options. Smart speakers and wireless speakers alike can provide an easy way to listen to stories.
You also have kids’ oriented podcasts like Circle Round and Noodle Loaf provide weekly content geared towards their interests. Circle Round is a great alternative for story videos and features a whole new story acted out like a radio play once a week. Noodle Loaf is a fun take on music education for kids led by a charismatic host.
Simply put, you have options to inspire screen-free time with your kids. It might not be easy going at the start, but there are resources. Trips to the library to pick out books and magazines are free and just take a bit of time.
Instead of reaching for a screen, structured play outdoors is a great way to stimulate imagination. Trips to the park, museums, and play dates with friends can be a great way to distract from the ever-present call of a screen.
Find Screen-Free Alternatives
Just about every activity has a screen-free alternative for a child. To best manage your kids’ screen time, it’ll help to learn some ways to avoid screens. Games like Minecraft are perfectly fine and immersive play for kids. However, regular block play and STEM toys can be equally rewarding.
Rather than sticking with music-making apps or games, you could very easily invest in music lessons for your child. This has the added benefit of giving a structured activity with very tangible benefits to their mental development.
Just about every screen activity is going to have a screen-free alternative. It might not be a one-to-one equivalent, but should scratch a similar itch. It will really just come down to what works for your kids at the moment if you’re following the other guidelines.
Set a Good Example
One of the most effective ways to manage kids’ screen time is by setting a good example with your own conduct. You’ll want to implement screen-free time and find screen-free alternatives for some of your favorite activities. Look, I do get it, I work on a computer for a living as well. That can’t be helped.
For some of your favorite activities, however, you can make a change. It will improve your overall health as well as help out your children. It can be a drastic change, but it is a worthwhile one.
Summary of Genius Ways Parents Can Manage Kids’ Screen Time
|Set reasonable boundaries
|Approach changes patiently
|Keep screens in common areas
|Check in on screen usage
|Make dedicated screen-free time
|Find screen-free alternatives
|Set a good example
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