Strategies for Managing Screen Time

Strategies for Managing Screen Time

Strategies for Managing Screen Time 2In the past decade, technology has developed rapidly and has become an integral part of our daily lives. The ways in which we have used technology have changed so quickly, that many of us have not paused to consider how our use of it has affected our own lives, but also the lives of our growing children. Technology can feel like a lifesaver to a parent…after all, while travelling, waiting in line, or even spending time at home a phone or tablet with kid-friendly apps and movies can prevent potential meltdowns and allow you to focus on the task at hand. Unfortunately, excessive screen time can have hazardous effects on your child’s physical, mental, and social development. Children who spend prolonged periods of time in front of a screen are at higher risk of obesity, anxiety and depressive disorders, and often struggle with effective conflict resolution. It is crucial that parents help their children develop a healthy relationship with technology at a young age so that they can acquire the skills they need to lead balanced, fulfilling lives.

So, what are some ways we can manage our children’s screen time?

Decide When, Where, and How Much Screen Time is Appropriate

This will be different for every parent. As you are deciding what limits you would like to place on screen time in your home, consider the following:

  • Which kinds of technology should your child be able to use? Do you have a TV, tablet, computer, and a phone? Which ones do you think will benefit your child the most?
  • How much screen time can your child have per day? Consider your child’s homework, outdoor playtime, and responsibilities at home when deciding the appropriate length of screen time.
  • Where can devices be used? Keep screens out of the bedroom, and away from the dinner table. Try to limit usage to areas where children can be monitored so that you can interact with them about the content they are viewing.
  • When can devices be used? Try to limit screen time during hours when children can be playing outside, or before they go to bed.
  • What types of content are your children allowed to view/interact with? Take advantage of parental controls and carefully curate the apps you allow your children to use.
  • Who should they be with? Is screen time something your children should consume alone, with their friends or siblings, or with the whole family?

Be Consistent

Once you have decided when, where, and how long devices can be used in your home, one of the most important things you will need to do is enforce those guidelines consistently. Remind your children that screen time is a privilege, not a right, and that it is something that must be earned. Be consistent and clear about what your child must do to earn screen time for the day. If they do not complete the tasks that are expected of them, then they will not be allowed to use a device.

Be Intentional

It may be tempting to turn on a movie if you’re busy, or to give the iPad to your child in the car, but before you do, think about what you want your child to learn in life. What do you want your family to value?  Make sure that you prioritize what you would like your family to value before screen time.

Model Desired Behaviors

One of the most challenging, yet most effective ways of developing healthy tech habits in your children is to model them yourself. Children model their behavior after ours, and if they see consistently see you checking your phone during meals and down time, they are likely to mimic that habit. Model how you use technology in front of your children and be transparent with them about why you set boundaries on your own screen time to have a more healthy, satisfying life.

Technology is a part of our world that will continue to grow and be a part of our lives. As our dependence on technology grows, maintaining healthy relationships with it will be increasingly important as it is incorporated into every facet of life. The benefits of technology are numerous and can be vastly beneficial to a child’s development and education when used responsibly. By balancing the use of technology with opportunities for children to connect physically, socially, and emotionally in the real world, parents can ensure that their children develop the skills they will need to learn and thrive throughout their lives.