3 Ways to Limit Children from Using ‘Too Much’ Digital Technology

How to limit children from using ‘too much’ digital technology?

'too much' digital technology

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

If you’re like most parents, you know that “too much” of anything can be a bad thing, especially for young children. For example, technology is an integral part of our lives. We use it to navigate while driving, speak with family and friends, and do a quick Google search for all our questions.

It’s no question that technology has its pros and cons, but how does tech impact children’s lives? If you’re looking for ways to implement boundaries with technology for your children, consider checking out the tips below.

The problem with too much screen time

Children can certainly benefit from using digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs. For example, there are several TV programs with an educational twist to help children learn their ABCs, how to count, and the general rules of life. However, extended periods of time in front of screens can have negative effects on children.

Research from the ABCD Study — the largest long-term study of brain development and child health — found that children who spent long periods of time using devices experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for critical thinking and reasoning. 

Other negative effects of “too much” screen time for children include:

  • Increased likelihood of obesity
  • Development of anxiety and depression
  • Behavioral problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Violence
  • Less time for interactive play
  • Impaired academic performance

As you can see, children who spend too much time on digital devices can experience a wide range of negative health-related problems. 

3 ways to impose limits on screen time

Grabbing a device out of your child’s hand or screaming at them to turn the TV off is never a good idea. Instead, it’s important for you to set healthy limits and boundaries for children when it comes to the amount of time they spend using tablets, phones, video games or TV.

Here are three ways to impose some limits on your children when it comes to their use of technology.

Set a timer

A common method parents can use to ensure their children are not spending too much online or using devices is to set a timer. 

Suppose you’re cooking dinner, and you only want your kids to use their devices for half an hour. In that case, set a timer using your phone and let your children know that after 30 minutes, they have to put their devices away. 

Children often crave structured time in their lives, and if they know they have 30 minutes, they can play games, talk to their friends or browse the internet within that time frame. Teaching children about time management skills early on can help them in the long run. 

Establish household rules

As a parent of the household, it’s crucial to establish a set of rules. Maybe you ask your children to do daily chores, such as walking the dog, taking out the trash, or helping cook meals. The same should go for using digital devices.

Consider establishing device rules, such as when your kids can use their devices, for how long, and for what purposes. For example, it became common for schools to use a blended learning approach during the pandemic, as schools moved online. 

Using devices for educational purposes is a good thing, but if time is spent looking at a screen, you may want to set rules regarding screen time after school. Online learning is still a valid option for schools, so it’s unrealistic to expect schools to stop using digital devices to their advantage.

Consider digital detoxes for the family

Another tip is to consider a family-wide digital detox. A digital detox involves taking a long-term break from using digital technology and the apps we’ve come to know and love. Social media is becoming increasingly popular, even for kids. 

However, there are studies show that extended time on social media can negatively affect children’s self-esteem and mental health. If you want your family members to feel more connected to one another, consider doing a digital detox. Step away from using devices for a few days or weeks to determine if it really adds anything positive to your life.

After a detox, have a conversation with your kids about the benefits of a digital detox and why spending time offline can be positive and fun. Instead of sitting around on your phone or tablet, you and your family can plan day trips, spend time together outside, see a movie, go shopping — the list goes on. 

Limiting screen time in the digital era

Imposing limits on your children’s screen time may seem difficult at first, and it’s normal for your children to push back on your new rules. However, these rules are in place to protect your child’s development and ensure they’re socializing outside of the internet. Use the three tips above if you want to limit how often your child uses digital devices.

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