Screen time can be a slippery slope. We don’t want to be completely over-zealous about it and yet if we let kids do what they want, a lot of them would sit in front a screen from wake-up to bedtime! Here are some tips for keeping things in balance.
- Set Boundaries and Keep Them. Set fair boundaries around screen time and communicate your boundaries clearly. Then stick with them. If you set the limit of 90 minutes a day of entertainment time, let the kids know ahead of time of the new rule and why. Be sure to give warning as the end time is nearing, 10 and then 5 minutes. Then when it’s done, follow through with ending the screen-time. They may not love it but it’s fair and it’s respectful.
- Use Technology to Your Advantage. There are so many ways to cut off screen time and safeguard kids now that parents can easily control access by time of day, hours per day and by content type. Your internet provider, to software options and apps all give great and relatively simple ways to control access.
- No Screen-time Before Bed. Make sure screens are off no later than one hour before bed. Screens, especially tablets and phones are known to excited brain activity and make it difficult to settle down for sleep.
- No Screen-time During Meals. This includes phones. This also means parents should set the example. Leave the phones away from the table and do not answer any calls during family dinner. The example is that people in front of us are more valuable in that moment than those who are reaching out via text or call. There are exceptions of course, waiting on news about grandma in the hospital might be one. But other than those rare occasions there are few people who should take precedence over family togetherness.
For tips on recommended screen-time by age, types of screen time, the effects of screen time and how to set boundaries around screen-time, see the class on Kids and Media.
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