Every modern mother understands the frustration that stems from trying to get between a child and a screen. Things just aren’t the way they used to be, and many parents are having a hard time deciding if screens are an advantage or a disadvantage. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, you probably feel as though it’s wise to limit the amount of screen time your children get. There’s so much more to see and do out in the world – give your children a push to go experience it.
- Have a List of Prerequisites
If you make the path to getting to screen time a long one, many children will likely tire before the end. Don’t let them come home from school and run straight for their smartphones. Make a list of what has to be done first. Homework and household chores should take priority over screen time. By clearly defining what comes first, you’re eliminating the possibility that your child may spend time in front of a screen at the expense of spending time doing things that are important. You’ll also be teaching your child how to establish priorities between work and leisure, which is a valuable life skill.
- Monitor What They’re Doing
Making sure your child is being constructive with his or her screen time will inevitably eliminate wasted time on the internet. Internet safety for kids is more important now than it’s ever been before. It’s best to assume that no platform is fully safe for children without guidance, locks, or restrictions put in place. Your child can start out innocently watching YouTube videos and stumble into things that are inherently harmful or terrifying. Put parental controls on your children’s devices to avoid them unwittingly finding trouble on the internet – including trouble from cyberbullies.
- Include Screen Time for the Whole Family
Tell your children to save some screen time for everyone else. If your kids love streaming shows and movies, have them hold off. Let them pick a movie to watch together as a family. What would have otherwise been lonely screen time can become a family bonding experience? Have dinner, watch a movie, and discuss it afterward. By allowing a little bit of screen time to become a family tradition, you’re positively impacting the whole household.
- Give them a Bunch of Options
Children often default to screen time because it’s an easy choice to make when they don’t know what else to do. They tend to forget about toys and hobbies because they require a little more work than reaching for a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Try asking your kids what they want to do, and make screen time one of many options.
Encourage them to try something new or revisit the things they used to enjoy. They may naturally choose other activities over screen time with a little prompting. You can also give them something productive or enriching to do. It’s never too early to teach your children to invest in themselves – doing so might help them establish the right foundation for a successful future.
- Set Up a Failsafe
You, as the parent, have the option of outright eliminating screen time. If your child doesn’t want to give it up or starts sneaking screen time, change the passwords. You can set a new WiFi password every day that can be given to your child under the conditions that he or she is fulfilling the necessary responsibilities. You can also turn off the WiFi after the allotted amount of time has passed. It’s hard to feel like the bad guy, but sometimes, drawing hard lines are necessary when you want the best for your kids.
While it may not be possible (or necessary) to entirely eliminate screens from your child’s life, he or she will grow to appreciate that you have everyone’s best interests in mind. Just make sure that screen time is valuable and your child is thriving in all other areas of life.
Ariana Williams is a pedagogy graduate with a huge love for tutoring and writing. She might often be found online, mixing those two hobbies and sharing her tips about raising and teaching children.