Screen time and kids. A hot topic these days, firing up parenting forums and mummy friend groups worldwide. A fantastic learning resource which can be part of digitally growing up, it can also encourage lack of socialising, outdoor time and various other important activities. Ideally the balance of these would be the best, but how do you go about achieving this as a parent? Here are some strategy ideas for managing screen time with kids at home:
Before setting up your new house rules, it is important to ask yourself some simple questions such as – are the screen free guidelines for the whole family? (yourself included) When can children use screens? For how long? Are there screen free times, like for example on the weekends, holidays, meal times? Where can children use screens? For example, allowed in the living rooms but not in the bedrooms? In general it is important to involve all family members in the discussion, this will ensure all needs are met and there is a bigger change of it being a success.
Routines can help integrate screen time into daily life and minimise conflict. For example, at mealtimes no phones on the table or in the discussion, avoiding interruption of family conversations. Or at nighttime, no phones in the bedroom, taking away the temptation of scrolling endlessly through the night and not getting a good nights sleep. You can decide together when is the best time to include screentime in the day. For example, would your child like to watch TV before or after dinner? This is allowed for 30min, but when in the day it is used your child can decide. These are examples. However, best if for you as a family to think about it and decide together.
How will you end screen time once the allotted time is over? This can be a controversial subject of many conflicts. For example, your child is watching TV and you switch it off halfway as the time is up. That is probably not going to end well and may trigger a tantrum. Some ways you can help make this transition easier are by 1. Giving your child a warning. Let them know their time is up soon and they need to turn the TV off at the end of the episode. 2. Let them finish their activity. You can combine this with the warning. 3. And most important of all – set their expectations. Let them know they have 30min to watch TV or be on the iPad. If they are younger, time can be a bit abstract. In this case you can translate it into “You can watch one episode” or “You can play one game”. Need some more inspiration? This blog post here covers more strategies and ideas.
As with any family rule, screen time must fit into your family life, values and lifestyle. Take some time to think about it and discover what the best strategy will be for your household.
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