The world you’re parenting in today is vastly different from what it was like when you were a kid. Back then, your parents might have some mild concerns about letting you watch too much TV. Today, screen time is a mammoth challenge that many parents are grappling with, so if you’re not sure what the right thing to do is, you’re not alone.
As a parent, you’re competing with the TV, smartphones, computers, the internet, and every new technological advance that comes onto the market. And the draw of the screen is a powerful one, as you will also be able to attest.
So, what can you do to keep a healthy screen time balance in your home?
Schedule screen time
Kids love structure and routine, and incorporating screen time into yours can make the difference you need. Set boundaries and give your children set times during which they can enjoy screen time. This technique works very well with younger children, and it’s a great way to teach them from the start about the balance between screen time and real life.
Use a timer, preferably not one that involves a screen, to signal the start and end of screen time. The key is consistency from all role-players in the child’s life. Kids test boundaries, and once you start moving them, there’s no going back without a fight.
As children get older, they’ll test the rules and rebel against them. This is a natural process, but you can still set time limits on their screen time. However, now you’ll need to be a little savvier about tracking it. By now, your child probably has at least one device that’s theirs to use, and you need to be sure they’re not breaking the rules.
A spy phone app allows you to monitor data from a smartphone, such as their usage, contacts, and activity. Your kids might not be too thrilled with you for using this approach, but it’s an excellent way of teaching them consequence management. By proving themselves unable to be trustworthy when it comes to your screen time rules, they must sacrifice privileges as a consequence.
Most modern devices come with a built-in set of parental controls. They allow the adult to limit the times at which the device is active. Additionally, you can select how much screen time is allowed before the child must come to you to request more. The parental controls also govern internet usage and age restrictive materials.
Unfortunately, some of these systems have not proven to be kid-proof. With the combined determination of a group of friends, parents will be shocked by what kids can get up to behind their backs. You should check your child’s devices frequently to see that your parental controls are still in place.
The days of children doing what their parents tell them to in blind obedience are gone. Today’s kids are more inquisitive, and they want to understand why something is necessary before they do it.
This is where communication lines between you and your children are essential. Speak often about technology and the role it plays in our lives and the value of maintaining a healthy balance.
Another vital component of maintaining control over your children’s screen time is modeling the behavior you expect. Do as I say and not as I do is not going to work when it comes to getting your children to comply with the rules. They should not see you doing the exact opposite of what you told them to do. It will lead them to rebel against the rules more easily.