Do your kids spend much more time than you would like on their preferred devices?
If yes, then you are far from alone. According to a recent report, children are spending 6 hours a day or more in front of a screen, with teenage boys being the worst offenders, clocking in a massive 8 hours a day. Too much screen time can lead to a whole host of issues, including poor quality sleep, underdeveloped social interaction skills, and problems with attention.
Fortunately, if you are worried about the amount of time your kids spend on tech, there are steps that you can take to limit their screen time without having to deal with any tech-related tantrums!
1. Set a good example
If you spend every waking hour glued to your smartphone, then you can’t really complain when your child wants to do the same. Instead, lead by example and try to cut back on the amount of tech that you use around your kids.
You may want to start small by not using your phone at the dinner table and then building up to setting a cut-off time each day when no one is allowed any screen time at all. You’ll be surprised at just how quickly you can all adapt once you get into a routine of using less tech.
2. Try other activities
You may find that your kids complain about being bored when you take away their tech, so it can be a good idea to have a list of activities up your sleeve to keep them entertained. Depending on their age, there are several different games and crafting projects that you could do together as a family or that they could undertake on their own.
One activity that proves popular with children of all ages is making t-shirt blankets. A great way to use up old t-shirts and to create a keepsake that all the family can enjoy, you don’t need to be an expert crafter to make one of these, but it will keep your kids occupied for several hours or possibly even longer. Of course, if you are keen to have a great-looking blanket, then it might be a more wise decision to reach out to experts to make your t-shirt blankets. The kids can still be involved in the process by helping you pick out the t-shirts to be used. Seeing the transformation of their t-shirts into something else might even inspire them to try this out for themselves for various other things, like turning all the empty toilet roll tubes into DIY pen organizers.
3. Explain why you are limiting screen time
It can be hard for children, especially younger ones, to understand why they can’t play with their devices for hours at a time, so it can be a good idea to sit down and explain it to them.
Talk to them not only about how long they are allowed to play for but also about what is appropriate for their age. If you have children of different ages and your older children need to use technology for school, make sure that you explain to your younger children why their siblings are allowed to use their devices for longer.
4. Keep a screen-free bedroom
Although this can be a tough one to enforce, especially if your child is used to using tech in their bedroom, it is much easier to keep tabs on your child’s tech use when they are only using devices in shared areas of the home.
Furthermore, not having any screens in the bedroom can help to promote better sleep and encourage your child to socialize more with other members of the family.
5. Be specific with limits
It is a lot easier to enforce rules around using tech if you have a set schedule surrounding when your kids are allowed to use their devices. Avoid saying things like “you can’t play for much longer” and “you have to put that phone down soon” and instead, set clear boundaries such as “that device is going away at 5pm”.