Many parents today have a problem to limit their children’s screen time, but they must do that since it’s a negative trend that is spreading around the young people. The mobile device will surely keep the kids busy, so the parents may have some rest, but is that the right way? Probably not, knowing that when they reach school age, may have problems with attention, and completing the tasks, because they want to spend time online, or playing games.
According to many studies, most of the parents report the screen time limits as the biggest problem they have while their child grows up. At the same time, we are lucky enough to have many reasonable solutions to this problem, and the parents can use free or paid apps to control how much time their children spend playing games or scrolling through social media, but sure there are many other ways to try before they take these strict measures and restrictions.
Here are a few tips on how to manage that, without having to be the “bad parent” and make your kids feel like they are not let to use their phones:
1. Tell them about the risks that come with it
Try to be patient and explain to them, using the techniques of positive parenting, how harmful the screens can be. Give them nice and clear examples, followed by facts, and never try to scare them out. Mobile devices are not enemies, but they should use them smartly, and not lose too much time playing. Also, make sure they are aware of the possible risks, like developing poor social skills and harming their eyes because of the blue light. Also, games may limit their cognitive skills (even though there are some that may improve them). The point is that you should do that with a calm voice, so they can get the message, or even motivate them to limit their time alone.
2. Get to know the mobile devices better
Education is a nice way to know what you are doing. Maybe you are not interested to learn about the hidden features of your phone, but your child already knows them all. You can’t tell your children that electronics can be harmful and dangerous if you don’t know why you are telling that. You are creating a model they need to follow, so it’s always a good idea to understand how the mobile devices, and also the social media work, so you can teach them properly. Pay attention to the games too, because some of them may include violent content, that may cause future problems with your child’s behavior.
3. You can use screen limit applications
Sometimes, it’s a nice idea to install a parental control application on your kid’s smartphone or laptop, so you can plan and reduce their time in front of the displays. Some devices have a built-in option for parental control, but for more advanced settings and features, you can choose some app like FamiSafe, that allows you to monitor every activity and limit the time your kid spends playing games. Most of these apps offer advanced planning features, that let you plan your family time, without having to make strict decisions and take actions that may make your children angry and disappointed.
4. Avoid fights about that
The worst thing you can do is to yell at your kids, without really giving a logical explanation of why are you limiting their time on the computer. They won’t take you seriously, or also, may yell at you back, which is not a healthy option for any family. You need to properly estimate your children’s maturity and behave appropriately to that. You should have authority over them, without letting them dictate your daily tasks and behavior. Fights and arguments are never a solution, and they are against the principles of positive parenting.
5. Screen time should be a treat
Make your children think they can play their game after they complete some tasks. For example, give them 30 minutes playing after they finish their homework, or help you with something at home. They will develop their responsibility, and realize that they can’t get their phones by default when they want that, but that they need to deserve their time today. This may not be the smartest solution, but it surely works, and when something works well, we don’t change it.
6. Phones, TVs, and computers are not allowed in the bedroom
This should be the main rule in your house. The blue light these devices emit can mess with our sleeping schedule, no matter your age. This recommendation is also good for the adults, and you can make a rule that you are all leaving your mobile devices in the living room, and then go to sleep. That’s the only way you can be sure your kids won’t use these devices late at night. Blue lights are also harmful to the eyes, and they can trick the body to think it’s day outside and decrease the levels of melatonin, which is responsible for our healthy sleeping schedule.
7. Make a list of daily activities
Fill up your day and every moment of your spare time with a particular activity. Include the kids in chores, join them while they are playing, go for a walk together, visit some friends or relatives, and so on. Some of these activities may be difficult today when social distancing is highly recommended, and many parents have a hard time to include more specific tasks in the kids’ schedule. But, leaving them with their phones and computers is surely not a solution.
Take all of these things in mind when your kids ask for games or watching shows on TV. As a parent, you are responsible to make them aware of all the potential risks. No one wants to lose precious time online, but the children must realize all of that by themselves, with a little help from you. And of course, as we said, when nothing else works, the apps and schedules may do the magic for you – but you should keep that secret safe from them.