In the era of technology, screens are everywhere. Whether you want to watch TV, play games, or even listen to music, you do that in front of a screen. You shouldn’t neglect the educational factor, although it depends on how you use the computer and TV.
As parents, you can’t forbid screen time for your children. But it’s only normal to worry and limit how much time they spend this way. According to Mayo Clinic, too much exposure to poor-quality screen time can cause obesity and attention problems. Children might develop irregular sleep patterns and behavior issues, such as violence or poor social skills.
The trick is to find a balance and optimize the amount and quality of your kids’ screen time. Here are some tips that will help you maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of media!
How Much Time Should Children Spend in Front of the Screen?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should be most careful with children less than six years old. The recommendations are as follows:
- Babies younger than 18 months – You should only allow screen time for video chatting. That includes talking to a parent or relative traveling or based in a distant location.
- Babies from 18 to 24 months – Parents can find suitable programming, such as cartoons. However, make sure to watch it together with the baby.
- Preschoolers from two to five years old – It’s best to limit time in front of a screen to 60 minutes. Make sure to check the programming quality, and it’s best to watch it together.
Once children turn six, the AAP doesn’t suggest a specific time limit. However, the experts indicate there should be restrictions. That includes which media children consume but also how much time they spend in front of a screen. These guidelines can help you achieve this goal!
Establish Screen-Free Zones
Your priority is to make kids’ bedrooms screen-free zones. The primary benefit is that children won’t waste time playing games instead of sleeping. If they use a smartphone or tablet in bed, it could disrupt their sleep pattern. It can lead to attention problems in school, but it also affects behavior and even lead to health problems.
Another benefit is kids won’t be able to hide in their rooms for hours. If you only limit using screens to living rooms and other common areas, they’ll always be there. Many devices require charging, and this should also happen outside of bedrooms.
Establish Screen-Free Times
Apart from zones where kids can’t use screens, you should also define times when they won’t have access. A kids phone monitoring app for parents can help you lock children’s devices at specified timeframes. For example, if you don’t want them to play games on mobile phones after 9 PM, you can easily adjust that.
Apart from the evening, you might consider forbidding using screens during mealtimes. If you think frames for doing homework should exist and be screen-free, consider preventing screen use during that time.
Parental control apps can also help monitor children’s general activity. You can get detailed reports on phone activity, web browsing, and messages. Some apps even send safety alerts when specific words get mentioned, contributing to keeping your children safe from online predators and other issues.
The Importance of Offering Smart Alternatives
It’s not only about stopping your children from using screens. You need to offer wise alternatives to make those frames more attractive. Here is what you could do:
- Go on a walk together. You can spend high-quality time with your children during screen-free times. Don’t hesitate to get creative, whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood or visiting a specific place.
- Get them a bike. Riding a bicycle is a fun method of spending time with friends outdoors.
- Play board games. If you can’t leave home, board games are an excellent alternative.
Final Thoughts – Set an Example and Be Smart
If you want children to stay off screens, lead by an example. Don’t use phones during lunch if that’s a screen-free activity. Before you limit device times, don’t forget to explain the reasons to your children. Offer wise alternatives, and make them age-appropriate.
You can also establish a pattern where children would earn screen time. For example, if they do homework, they could get an hour playing games. The incentives should be age-appropriate, meaning you might need to adjust them down the road.