Screens are ubiquitous and when you add up the time your child spends on computers, phones, tablets and TVs, you may be surprised at just how many hours a day they spend on screens. Limiting screen time opens up space and energy for interactions with family and friends, time for sports and time for play.
How much is too much?
Studies vary on their recommendations, but each family has to collaborate on setting limits that suit their lifestyles. Not all screen time is equal either and studies show that screen time that involves learning, tutors and face time with friends and family members can actually be very productive and positive. Current recommendations include no screen time for children under 2 and 1-2 hours for children under 6.
Give space for Choices
Your family members are far more likely to stick to limits when they have some choice in the matter, so let them decide which shows they want to watch and what apps and games to play. These should be age-appropriate, so ensure that you know what your child is watching.
Allow your child to ‘earn’ additional time for chores and homework done, or activities completed. Explain why you are limiting their screen time and be consistent with implementing restrictions so that they will be able to make the right choices for themselves in the future.
Be a Good Example
This is a tough one, but limiting your own screen time will be good for you and it will encourage your children to follow your example. Ensure that you offer other activities to fill in gaps that are fun, active and outdoors whenever possible.
Set Time Limits
Set your electronics to turn off after a screen time limit has ended so you don’t always have to be the bad guy. This means that you start a timer when screen time begins, and when it’s done, the device turns off. That way you don’t have to police screen times or get into an argument when they are done.
Turning off the WiFi or changing the password so you can control access is another way to ensure that screen time isn’t violated when you aren’t home to monitor use.
Outline Screen Times
Turn off electronics at least a half hour before bed as too much screen time can impact your child’s ability to fall asleep. Allowing electronics in the bedroom can also impact the amount of sleep our child gets, so find a solution here that works for your family.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advises that children also have screen-free days. Or two-hour limits on screen time for some days in the week. Technology can be a boon when used correctly and can really enhance educational experiences. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful, so limit the amount of time your children spend on screens and keep your family time free including family meals and weekly family activities.