How to manage your kids screen time at home?
Technology is an integral part of our lives, and it looks like that will continue to hold true in the future. Teaching your children how to responsibly use technology starts at home. Children need to navigate a technological world that’s changing rapidly. Managing your kids’ screen time is the first step in training them for future self-monitoring. If healthy habits are already in place, they’ll be better armed to make smart decisions when you’re not around.
Know your values and talk about them
What one family allows another doesn’t. Decide with your partner what you find acceptable for your children to watch and do with their tech time. Inevitably, your children will have a friend(s) who’s parents let them watch or play a video game that’s banned in your house. Frequently talk with your children about your family rules and why they’re in place. Be prepared to say something along the lines of, “It doesn’t matter what your friend’s parents let him watch, that’s not okay in our house.”
Create zones in your house where it’s okay to use technology and those where it is banned. Pornography, violence, and language so easily find their way onto your child’s devices that it can be hard to track. It’s more difficult for children to access this kind of content if they’re always in an area where mom and dad can look over their shoulder. Keeping technology in communal areas also lets you know how much time they’re spending in front of a screen.
In addition, your children may be playing games, watching videos, or texting friends late into the night when they should be asleep. Finally, technology in the bedroom can prove to be a sleep deterrent even if it’s not being used. Seeing the phone, laptop, or TV may make your child think of what he’s missing or it may prove to be too much of a temptation.
Establish an electronic curfew
Kids need limits. Not only will an electronic curfew keep them from using technology too much, but it can also save their sleep cycle. Exposure to bright blue spectrum light suppresses sleep hormones. Televisions, laptops, e-readers, and smartphones can all be light sources that throw off your child’s sleep cycle.
Be the example
A parent who self monitors their screen time will show children how it should be done. When your son gets a smartphone or tablet, he’ll already have an idea that he has to know his limits if he’s seen you apply self-discipline yourself. That doesn’t mean kids won’t push back against rules, but a good example goes a long way to building long-term self-monitoring skills.
If you set an electronic curfew, follow it yourself, limit your use of technology to communal areas, and talk about the kinds of things you don’t like to watch and why.
Technology is a tool, but if you don’t teach your kids how to use it responsibly, it can become their master. A good example and basic rules will teach your children how to use technology to enhance their lives rather than control it.