Not such a long time ago, cell phones were pretty much unheard of, tablets were definitely not a thing, and kids played with toys and games — often even outside! But every parent these days knows that these things have certainly changed, and kids are spending more time than ever looking at their screens. Screens aren’t necessarily bad all of the time, but children are spending a great deal of their time playing with these things, and most parents try to limit that for a whole host of reasons.
This is not as hard as it sounds, since there are some very effective ways that parents can do this — even if your kids might think it’s impossible!
One very easy way parents can get their kids to limit their screen time is to tell them not to use those devices in certain areas. For instance, it is pretty important that kids put their phones away when they are at the dinner table so that they can take part in conversations with their family, and get some of that much-needed family connection. By designating specific areas screen-free, it’s harder for kids to come up with loopholes and excuses, and becomes a habit to put the phone away as soon as they cross the threshold of that area.
Parents do everything they can to protect their little ones from harm. But a very effective way for moms and dads to do that is to make sure they know a lot about what their kids are up to, especially where the internet is concerned.
Parents who are educated on what their child is into as far as social media goes are much more likely to be successful at getting their children to limit their screen time. That’s because these parents are able to effectively teach their children about the potential harm that their favorite social media sites can cause.
Kids like to imitate what they see, which you can use to your advantage when parenting. The people kids usually like to imitate the most are their parents, so make sure that the behaviors you are modeling for them are the ones you want to see repeated.
That means that parents should be limiting their screen time in front of kids, too — put your own phone away in screen-free zones, and try to use it less in front of your children. Not only does this help set a good example, but it also helps parents — too much screen time isn’t good for adults, either!
When children are near a hot stove, naturally their parents are going to tell them not to touch the stove, since it will injure them. Parents should probably have the same approach when it comes to letting their children use things like cell phones.
Cell phones have been linked to brain cancer — although there’s a lot of controversy around these studies, many parents would rather be safe than sorry, and there are plenty of other health and development risks that come from too much screen time. It is important for parents to communicate with their kids, and tell them about these risks. Then, they’ll understand why they shouldn’t spend as much time glued to their screens, rather than seeing time limits as an arbitrary rule or punishment.
If it’s not practical to set aside certain areas of the house for screen time (maybe your kid does homework in their room on the computer, and you have your own phone on in the kitchen to do the daily schedule), another approach is to set aside specific times that screens can be on — and must be off.
For example, maybe they can use their smartphones or their tablets once they have eaten dinner if it’s not their bedtime yet, or after homework is done. Maybe mornings will be screen-free time, or parents can let them choose the time of day, but limit it to a certain number of hours in total.
Moms and dads who want to reduce their child’s screen time might want to think about what they do and do not allow in their child’s bedroom. There are a lot of parents who allow their kids to have televisions, tablets, and laptops in their rooms, but sometimes that can be harmful.
Try keeping electronics out of the bedroom — or limiting time, so that (for example) laptops can only be used in the bedroom during homework time, or screens are taken away and put downstairs when it’s bedtime.
Although kids might feel like having their devices is a human right, parents can do a few things to remind them that it’s a privilege (and not by telling them stories about how they didn’t have one in their day!).
Instead of giving kids unlimited access, make screen time a reward. For example, when the kids have completed their chores, or done something extra nice, then they get to play with their cell phones for a little bit. That way children do not become dependent on these items, and they are able to engage in more face-to-face interaction with their friends and family members.
It may seem like tracking doesn’t do much, but it can actually be a big help in limiting screen time. For one thing, it gives parents hard data on what their kids are doing, and for how long — so kids can’t claim that they have barely even been on their phone today, Mom!
There are some really cool apps available that actually help parents track their kid’s screen time, too. Set some daily limits, and have your kids hand in their devices once those limits are reached — and trust in the app to tell you when that is.
One awesome way parents can ensure that their children don’t spend a lot of time on their phones or tablets each day is by making sure there is something else planned — that way, kids aren’t just sitting around being bored and wishing they were online. One fun suggestions is to have a jar that has a bunch of little pieces of paper in it, and each of the pieces of paper has a fun activity listed on it. These activities can be big things, or they can be as simple as reading a book — and when it’s screens-off time, kids can pull an activity from the jar so they have something specific to do.
Some moms and dads choose to limit the amount of time their child spends in front of a screen, and then there are other parents who choose to take an entirely different approach altogether. While this does seem like a bit of an extreme approach, it is still a fairly effective way to limit a child’s screen time — and given that screens exist in school and at friends’ houses, they’ll still be getting some screen time in if there’s none at home.
There are quite a few reasons why some parents are choosing to do this, and while it may seem extreme, it may well be worth it for parents that are really worried.
Originally published on Moms.
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