How to Limit Screen Time as a Family
Parents of the 21st century have new challenges to face with social media on the rise as their kids get older. They have children as young as seven years old on devices constantly and pay more attention to videos than they do to playing outside, eating dinner, listening to their parents and doing their homework. Parents give in too much to get their kids out of their hair because the average family has two working parents who have important careers and they need to unwind so they send their kids online instead of out to play. There has to be a better balance so families can talk together and spend more time together than being online. People are beginning to socialize online instead of in person because many of them are becoming socially awkward as the millennials and even the older generation baby boomers look at their phones in public establishments because they feel awkward meeting new people.
Screen time may keep your kids quiet but too much is not a good idea. Today, all people seem to look at our screens and it’s hard to limit gaming, television, and devices when this is all they know. Here are some tips that will help parents think about the time their child spends on a screen daily. Parents want to make sure they are keeping screen time down to a healthy and comfortable amount of time.
Parents have to be role models for their children when it comes to screen time. Parents are guilty of binge TV watching on streaming channels like Netflix, so before you watch your series, start setting an example. Some people like the TV on for noise and sit on their phones but your child is watching you do this kind of behavior and they are learning bad habits from it.
Kids are smarter than their parents when it comes to electronics and this is why parents need to keep on top of all these new gadgets. Make sure you are familiar with the newest app on a phone or the latest social media sites.
How can you expect to teach your kids about the dangers of social media if you don’t understand them yourself? Stay on top of the latest violent video games as well and look at the ratings because if you don’t understand the electronics, you won’t understand how they affect kids. Make sure kids know fantasy from reality and that this violence is only limited to the game and not to be practiced in the outside world.
Keep electronics in a certain area
Establish some rules in your home where you don’t want smartphones, devices, or laptops. The eating area should be for eating and not for electronics. The dining room and kitchen should only be used for eating and cooking meals not playing violent video games or chatting to their friends online. Family meal time should have a normal conversation about how everyone’s day went.
Set an unplug curfew
Make sure you enforce rules when the entire family should turn off their devices. This can be dinner time or have them unwind from these an hour before bedtime so the family can spend some time together. Parents should think about having a long time for their family to unwind and spend time together playing a game or doing homework.
Consider parental controls
You can protect your kids from various content on TV and online by using parental controls on all of your household devices. These controls let you see what they are watching on TV and what they are doing online.
Talk to your kids about these dangers
Kids will understand that it’s not healthy to sit around and watch TV and play online if you set ground rules young. Some kids purposely break the rules because they don’t suffer consequences so then they think you are being silly when you put your foot down. They will be more likely to cooperate with you than kids who try and blame their parents and say they are just being cruel.
This is the time when you talk to your kids about how violent video games, movies and many images are to kids that don’t understand violence. Some kids can be affected for life if they see blood and guts because their older siblings think it’s funny and threaten to hurt their younger siblings if they tell on them. Little kids are very frightened about many things that look and appear scary to them. Talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way about online people who are predators and are not who they claim to be. For example, a 12-year-old girl could actually be talking to a 40-year-old predator pretending he is a young child to try and get the child to meet him and disobey their parents. This can be scary but it’s also very risky for young girls and boys online these days.
Make sure you have your younger children’s passwords to all social media accounts. This way you can create rules about using social media and what sites you will allow your kids to be on. Most kids are not mature enough to handle online drama like cyberbullying. It’s important for parents to be responsible and keep your children safe if they are using any social media sites.
Talk about different activities
Children grow dependent very quickly when it comes to online activities to pass the time. Take the time and help your kids find other things to keep them busy even if it’s something old fashioned like riding their bicycles. Try to find things for them to do that don’t require using a screen.
Screen time is a privilege
Make sure you let your kids know that everything they are allowed to do is privileged and not rights and that includes being online. This way you have something to take away like the privileges you gave them when they break the rules. Set limits on screen time and once you have established that, don’t use extra screen time as a reward for children. There are many other rewards available to kids for good behavior besides being online and stick to your guns!
Never let them have screen time in their bedroom
Not every parent can watch what their kids are doing all of the time especially monitoring screen time if parents are allowing them to use it in their bedrooms. It’s wise not to allow your children to have a TV, a computer or a gaming system in their rooms but many parents do allow it anyways. This also includes handheld devices that may keep your kids up too late at night and this will make them too tired for school if they are not getting enough sleep.
These are just ideas for limiting screen time for your kids and if you have already let them have their devices in their rooms, it’s going to be hard to change the rules. You as parents can still limit screen time as a family so your kids can spend some quality family time together. If you decide to let them use screens in their room, then at least keep the kitchen and dining room screen free and have your meals together as a family so you all can discuss your day. You could also create screen rules together because your kids might be feeling a bit neglected if they are always told to entertain themselves online.