How To Limit Your Child’s Screen Time Without Too Much Fuss
In today’s society, we are surrounded by technology and it is an inevitable part of our lives.
Children should be introduced to technology in the right way and with guidance in order to avoid any negative effects it can have on their health.
A gaming expert shares tips on how to painlessly limit screen time for your children and ensure the quality of the content they are exposed to.
Whether it’s constantly checking on Instagram or binge watching your favourite show for the third time, even reasonable adults have trouble limiting their technology use. Out-of-control screen time for everyone, especially children, has become a serious problem in recent years.
Too much screen time and poor-quality content can lead to attention and behaviour problems, lousy sleep schedule and quality, obesity, violence, and additionally in children, it can cause delays in language and social skills development.
With the readily available technology all around, it is important to introduce it to our children in the right way and at the right time. Daniel Tamm, a gaming expert from Gembyte.com, talks about the strategies on how to introduce children to technology while avoiding negative effects on their development and set screen time rules without causing an argument.
Recommended Screen Time
Experts from all relevant fields will agree that children under the age of 2 have no benefits from screen time, apart from occasionally video chatting with friends and family.
For children aged between 2 and 12, one hour of screen time a day is optimal. As we know, not all screen time is bad, and exposing them to high-quality content while supervising them can help them discover new interests, explore hobbies, and develop new skills.
For teens and adults, although many of us significantly exceed this every day, 2 hours a day is the recommended amount of screen time.
If we want to avoid our children becoming screen addicts, it is crucial to introduce them to technology in a controlled way, and with rules and explanations appropriate for their age and stage of development. Here are some tips which will help make screen time a manageable topic in your home.
1. Keep Up To Date With Technology And The Content
It is much easier to supervise and set limits with younger children, but if your child is older and sometimes uses technology unsupervised, it is important to know what they are up to. Through conversation, you can get familiar with your child’s interests online and ask them about the content they are exposed to, or you can explore the games they are playing or the influencers they are following on your own. Either way, no matter how much you trust your child’s judgement, their online activity shouldn’t be completely unsupervised.
2. Explain Why You’re Setting Screen Time Rules
As soon as your child starts using technology, they should be made aware of the negative effects of too much screen time. Of course, the explanation will depend on your child’s age, but understanding why you’re setting the rules will make your child more likely to follow them.
3. Include Your Child In The Making Of The Rules
For younger children, the rules should be kept brief and simple, but as your child gets older, their interests will change and they will start having more activities. Listening to your child’s reasons and making them feel heard and understood will go a long way in the future.
Rules for different circumstances, such as work days and holidays should be set, and negotiating in the beginning will help you avoid any on-the-go negotiations which can lead to confusion. This is not to say that there can be no exceptions, but those should be rare and you should explain the reasons appropriately.
4. Introducing Routine And Transitions
Having a certain time during the day for screen time is always a good idea, as it will keep the child’s expectations in check. For example, you could limit technology use only after dinner and restrict it before and during the child’s bedtime routine. If you want to avoid screen time during some activities, such as a car ride, think of alternative ways, like various games, which will hold your child’s attention.
When it comes to transitions, it is never a good idea to abruptly pull your child away from the screen. It can be useful to set their expectations from the beginning, perhaps by saying they can only watch one video or watch one episode of a show. If they are playing a game, warn them about 10 minutes before they have to stop so that they have time to finish what they have started and save their progress. All this will help you avoid stress and arguments when it is time for them to stop using their device and move on to a different activity.
5. Set Technology-Free Zones And Technology-Free Times
Your child should know when it’s inappropriate to use technology devices; for example, you could make all the family meal times and areas technology-free. Your child’s room should also be tech-free, especially if they are very young; keeping gaming consoles and computers in the living room will help you track your child’s screen time and activity more efficiently. As for phones and smaller devices, have a designated place to keep them in during no-screen times.
It is also helpful to set a limit to using one device at a time so that if the whole family is watching a movie together, everyone should be off their phones or tablets.
6. Foster Good Screen Habits
Plenty of useful content can be found online and there are many ways to use screen time productively. Children can discover new interests or further explore their hobbies. While your child is very young, find new activities online that you can try out together or, when they get older, encourage them to use the endless online resources to explore the topics they are interested in, still under some supervision.
7. Ask Them Why They Want To Use Technology
Asking this simple question will give you insight into your child’s needs and wishes, but it will also make the child more aware of them. If your child is simply bored, you can suggest a different activity. Furthermore, asking them about the most interesting part of their screen time and what made them happy or sad will help you stay connected with your child and their experience.
8. Model The Desired Behaviour
Avoid keeping the TV on for background noise and try to stay present while you are spending time with your child. If there is an emergency, explain to them why you are checking your phone and put it away as soon as you are finished.
In conclusion, Tamm says: “We should approach our children’s virtual experiences the same way we do their real ones. As soon as they start using technology, especially social media, it is important to inform them about the benefits and the potential dangers they might encounter, and they should always feel safe to come to you with anything they experience. Children can reap the benefits of technology, but they are not going to do it without guidance, so remember, the quality of the content is going to affect them more than the sheer amount of screen time.”