Screen time - how much is too much? And tips for reducing your child's screen time. - Mums NI - A Hub For Parents in Northern Ireland

Screen time - how much is too much? And tips for reducing your child's screen time.

Mums NI
Written by Mums NI on Wednesday, 14 June 2017 Posted in: Parenting

Screen time - how much is too much? And tips for reducing your child's screen time.

It's becoming a familiar story for more and more parents, our kids sitting zombified by the screen. Kids are being bombarded with digital entertainment to a greater and greater extent and the difference in screen time between our generation and theirs is stark. Although we all understand that too much screen time is bad for kids, we can't very well shelter our kids completely from screens. So what's to be done? Here's our guide on how to regulate screen time for your little ones.

Consistency

The single most important rule for regulating kids screen time is parental consistency. Avoid changing the rules around screens from one day to the next. If you have a policy of "no screens after 7pm" then make sure to be strict and stop all device usage at 7pm. When we chop and change our minds this is confusing for our kids and this is when they will act out in ways we would rather they didn’t.

Inform your kids

When you lay down the rules regarding screen time for your kids, make sure they know what the rules are and explain why the rules exist. Give reminders of when screen time will stop and stick to that rule. When kids know that "iPad is being turned off in 10 minutes" then they won't get a surprise when this happens.

Have something ready for after screen time

If possible, have another activity ready to go when the end of screen time comes. A child will wonder why they've had to stop playing with their device to simply do nothing. And as pointed out in the point above, tell your child what's coming next: "When the iPad is turned off in 10 mins, you can help me with dinner" or "When the iPad is turned off in 10 mins, lets play a board game!". This will help prevent a potential tantrum at the end of screen time.

Get Involved and know when to stop

We all know that sometimes the screen time frees up our time to get the essentials done, but where possible, try to be involved in your child's screen time as much as possible. Most games on the iPad or phone have no "end" and services like the BBC iPlayer and Netflix have a near-infinite amount of shows for kids. So our kids could probably sit behind a screen fo many hours without getting bored. One show leads to the next and one game level leads to the next! Sitting down and getting involved in screen time with our kids means we can watch for natural stopping points: "Ok, this is your last level" or "After this episode we'll start dinner". 

Don't bend the rules for educational screen time

As above, if the rules around screen time are set, don't bend the rules because your child is playing an educational game. There are many other ways your child will learn so it's ok to stick to the rules even if your child is playing an educational app. If those rules are flexible, your child will learn very quickly how they can "get away with it".

If all else fails - go nuclear! 

If all the above doesn't work, you can always hide the chargers and change the WiFi password! Remember, you're the parent, you're the boss!

 

Have you discovered any tips or tricks to managing your kids screen time? Then why not let us and other mums know in the forum here.

 

Tagged with: managing screen time for kids
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