School-aged kids spend an average of 7 hours of screen time each day. With the American Academy of Pediatrics figuring 2 hours is more than sufficient, the actual numbers of computer usage for kids can be staggering. The consequences your child faces for being immobile for long periods of time can lead to a higher incidence of obesity. Surfing the Internet an extended period may also put them in harm’s way and in the path of predators. The following are tips for managing your child’s screen time.
Keep Technology in a Shared Room
It’s easy to get sidetracked and waste hours of time spent on your phone or tablet. You may even wish you could track of the amount of data used. If you’re looking to limit the hours your child spends in front of the screen, place the electronic devices in rooms where the entire family sits such as in the kitchen or living room. This allows you better insight into the actual minutes your child is in front of the screen. You’ll also be able to witness the websites that they visit and who they communicate with. Although you may be tempted to give your child a tablet or smartphone to play with to keep them busy at an early age, introduce other activities such as books and toys when they’re toddlers and pre-school age.
Enlist the Help of Technology
A router with parental controls allows you to manage your child’s content and time spent in front of the screen. Important features of the device could include blocking mechanisms for certain apps and websites. If you’ve set time limits, the parental control system will deliver a usage report that shows you how much time they are actually spending on their equipment.
Be a Good Role Model
Children typically mimic the behaviors of their parents. If you sit staring at your smartphone or tablet constantly, you’re not setting an example of a good role model. You’re also making it easy for them to want to do the same. Whether it’s after work or on weekends, put your family first by giving them your undivided attention. If you’ve set certain rules for usage such as no electronics at the dinner table, you need to follow the same house guidelines. If you find yourself with free time, find activities that bonds the family such as games or reading.
Do Your Homework
As a parent, you may be out of the loop with today’s movies, music and T.V. shows. But you need to make yourself aware of what is and isn’t age appropriate for your child. Do your own research to determine the age the material is geared toward. You can take another proactive approach by viewing it on your own first. If you deem it innocent and G-rated, give your kids the go-ahead.
Listen to the Experts
Although you can do your own research to determine what is age-appropriate for your child, you may also want to listen to the experts. There are a number of organizations dedicated to reviewing material that is deemed safe for your children. The information can also help you make a more informed decision based on the information provided by them. Sites such as “Parents Choice,” mark the safe material with a seal of approval.
Form Other Friendships
There are other important things in the world besides games, movies, T.V. shows and apps. Ditch the electronics by limiting your child’s screen time and let your child form other friendships. If you have a dog or cat, time spent caring for them can make your child become nurturing and disciplined. You can also help your child become less socially awkward by encouraging them to invite friends from school home to play. Introduce games that allow them to use both their imagination and brain. Instead of texting play dates to their friends, tell your child to pick up the phone and converse.
Stick to the Rules
Parenting is hard, especially when your child begs and pleads to get their way. If you’ve set certain guidelines for screen time and appropriate Internet sites, stick to the rules. Practicing consistency will show your child that you mean business. They’ll also eventually learn to use their time wisely by finding other things to do.
Technology is at home, school, work and play. Although you can’t hinder it from future development, you can manage the amount of screen time your child is spending with the various electronic gadgets. You can also help introduce them to a world of other opportunities before technology took over their lives.