In today’s highly-digital and fast-paced world, where screens are part of daily activities, too much screen time can significantly influence a child’s overall development. Aside from setting a reasonable time limit, parents must actively look for ways to help their children develop healthy relationships with their screened devices. Here are seven proven methods to help you efficiently reduce your child’s screen time.
Set a good example
If you want to reinforce healthy screen habits in your child, you need to be a good role model first. Be mindful of your screen time use, especially if you frequently utilize your phone for work. Avoid scrolling mindlessly and put down your devices whenever you interact with your little one. While binge-watching your favorite shows is harmless, avoid watching them while your child is around. Kids copy what they see, so be cautious of your actions and behavior.
Engage in non-screen activities
Contrary to your tech-savvy and modern child’s belief, there are various non-screen activities that can keep them entertained and engaged. Remember that your goal is to prevent your child from relying on their gadgets, so you must provide them with healthy alternatives. Encourage your child to go outdoors and play with the neighborhood kids.
Bring them to the nearest park or spend one sunny day frolicking on the beach. You can also take them to an interesting and child-friendly museum to help bring out their creative side. If you have multiple kids, remember to bring essential equipment that can make your planned outdoor activity more manageable for everyone. For instance, if you have an infant, a mini fan for a stroller can help keep them cool and comfortable while on the move.
Create a screen time routine
Children thrive on routines, so setting a screen time schedule can help them become more mindful of their screen use. Have a family meeting and get everyone’s input on how they plan to allocate their screen hours. Choose a time every day for your family to unplug from their gadgets and use these hours to spend meaningful time with each other.
The best times to implement screen-free hours would be before bedtime and during dinnertime. Place all your devices in an area where your child can’t see or access them. The less time they see their electronics, the easier for your kid to engage in other fun or educational activities.
Establish a no-screen devices zone
Aside from creating a schedule, you should also delegate an area in your home where all forms of technological devices are not permitted. Since dinnertime and before bedtime are the ideal hours to restrict screen use, designate your dining area and bedrooms as your family’s technology-free zones. Keep these areas exclusive for family gatherings and meaningful discussions.
Educate your child
Your child will most likely follow the screen use rules you’ve established if they clearly understand the dangers of unhealthy screen time use. Take time to educate your little one about the repercussions of being engrossed in their gadgets and spending too much time online. If you tend to be aggressive when prohibiting them from using their electronics, they wouldn’t be able to see the bigger picture and will continue to resist your rules.
Be realistic and consistent
If your little one has been spending substantial time on their screened devices, reducing their screen time to more than half their current time is unrealistic and inefficient. Set realistic screen time goals and consider your child’s personality. To ensure your child cooperates, create screen time goals and rules as a family, and be sure to acknowledge their suggestions.
Aside from being realistic, make sure to stay consistent when implementing the rules. If you often let them bend the rules, your little one will feel that you’re not serious with your intentions, causing them to fight every time you reprimand them. Be firm when enforcing the rules and prepare yourself for any conflicts that may arise.
Avoid using screen time as a reward
One common mistake parents make is using screen time as a reward whenever their children do something good. Doing so can trigger negative behavior as your child is more motivated to do anything just so that they can have more screen time. You should also avoid using screen time to discipline or calm your child whenever they have tantrums. Constantly offering them gadgets as a pacifying mechanism will only make establishing rules challenging for you in the long run. It can also prevent your child from learning to regulate their emotions more efficiently.
Limiting your child’s screen use need not be difficult. Follow these tips and constantly interact with your child.