Your older kids have worked hard all day at school and are begging for some time to relax and go on their phones.
And you’re conflicted.
So, what’s a parent to do? It’s no wonder why screen time has been named as the top source of mom guilt.
Why it’s Important
When it comes to screen time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends:
Ages 0-18 or 24 months: No screen time at all
Ages 2-5: 1 hour or less per day
Ages 5-17: 2 hours or less per day
In reality, the average 8-10 year old child in the U.S. is exposed to 6 hours of screen time per day, according to the CDC.
- Mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety)
- Reduced number of hours of sleep per night
- Language and social skills delays
- Attention difficulties
- Reduced time engaged in activities that promote learning
#1: Set Limits, and Stay Consistent
#2: Use Apps & Controls
Take advantage of controls on your child’s devices to automatically set timers and limits on screen time.
For example, Apple’s Family Sharing plan allows parents to set permissions remotely with Screen Time. In Screen Time controls, you can set limits for managing device time on an iPad or iPhone.
#3: Schedule Screen-Free Time
In addition to setting limits on how much screen time is allowed at home, outline some boundaries on when and where this time can take place.
Some parents might choose to say device time is okay after getting home from school. Or, after homework is completed. But not during dinner time, before school, or right before bedtime.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends that parents consider keeping certain rooms in the house screen-free. For example, no TV’s in bedrooms or charging devices outside of your child’s bedroom at night.
#4: Look at Quality
Manage the type of device time for your kids. Studies have shown that there is a difference in the quality of the screen time children are exposed to.
Research shows that young children benefit more from slow-paced, “thoughtfully designed” media.
#5: Join In
That’s right. One way to manage the quality of your child’s time spent watching television is actually to watch with them!
According to the American Psychological Association, toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from “co-viewing” media with parents. Even if just for one episode, sit and watch with your child. You can make comments and talk about the show, helping your child apply the content to daily life.
#6: Make Engaging Activities Readily Available
Kids might turn to technology when boredom kicks in. To avoid this, give your child direction by encouraging them to participate in some other fun activities.
Getting outside to play, take a walk, or practice a sport is a great way to boost both mental and physical health!
Help your child develop a hobby that he or she can engage in at home. This can improve their self-confidence and keep their focus off of time on devices.
#7: Lead by Example
Are you constantly checking your phone? Do you keep it out at dinnertime and throughout your time at home with your kids?
Be a good role model by modeling healthy, productive screen time. This might be time that you use technology in helpful ways. For example, tracking your fitness or watching a YouTube video to learn a new skill.
Set a good example for being present during family time. Set your phone in another room and try to limit interruptions during conversations or activities with checking texts and social media.
Show your kids how you spend time relaxing by engaging in other activities, like reading a book or doing yoga. Participate in outdoor activities with them, such as bike rides or dog walks.