5 Simple Ways to Limit Your Kids’ Screen Time
The only screen many of our parents had to worry about us staring at constantly was the one on the television. These days, simply asking your children to put down their cell phones, quit playing video games or sign out of social media sites is enough to incite a revolt.
Limiting kids’ screen time is not as simple as cutting the cord, though. Educationally speaking, plenty of apps, websites, games and TV shows can offer your children a great deal. The trick to making screen time healthy is to steer your child toward media choices you’re comfortable with and knowing how much is too much. Here are 5 tips to help you do just that.
Kids copy their parents, so set a good example. If you watch the news on four different screens, always have the TV on in the background and text in the middle of dinner, you’re never going to convince your kids that too much screen time is a bad thing.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 24 months shouldn’t use media; they should get all their intellectual stimulation from play and interacting with people. Until age 5, children should get no more than 60 minutes of total screen time each day. For everyone else – including you – the recommended daily limit is 2 hours. As tempting as it is to reach for your smartphone the second you wake up to check out your many different social media accounts, stop now. Walk the talk, parents.
Television networks flow one show into another with nothing but commercials in between. Your children can exceed their media time quickly and with little or no quality control. Luckily, you have many tools at your disposal to prevent this. Use your DVR, on-demand cable service and movie rental subscriptions to select shows suitable for your children. YouTube lets you do something similar with its playlist feature. Cue up and let your child watch the shows one at a time; your service provider should be set up so you can see what they’ve viewed.
Time video game play
Most video games lack scripted endings, which can make knowing when to quit difficult. For this reason, putting your children on a timer is a handy way to limit screen time. Something as simple as an alarm clock will signal to your children when to shut off a game.
For the latest in screen time management, there are devices that let you set daily or weekly screen time allowances. Those devices automatically switch off electronic equipment when a child reaches his or her allotted time. Some timing devices require children to insert a token to activate the device; handing out tokens can also be a way to reward good behavior or grades.
Keep screens out of bedrooms
Putting a TV, computer and game console in a child’s room encourages use of those screens. Research published in the February 2013 issue of the journal Pediatrics revealed that children who watch a media screen an hour before bedtime can have difficulty falling asleep. If your child needs a computer for schoolwork, give him or her access to a laptop, which you can remove before bedtime.
Change the Wi-Fi password
Changing the Wi-Fi password is a pretty neat trick for limiting screen time. Make a habit of changing it every day, and use revealing new passwords as a carrot for getting older children to do their chores. Bedroom not tidy? No Wi-Fi password. Simple as that.