Help! My kids are on their screens all the time. Screens are taking over our lives and it’s up to us to help our children manage their screen time. Children are using screens with access to iPads and cell phones at earlier and earlier ages. This is creating harmful effects on how our children and teens are prepared to cope in the real world.
Children do not have the maturity or ability to balance the temptation of the screens and their addictive nature and It’s costing us. Studies have shown that our little ones are not prepared for pre-school. They have not developed the dexterity or the attention span that the school curriculum demands of them and they are falling behind even before they begin.
Teens and pre-teens are having trouble navigating in the real world as they isolate themselves behind the screens. Recent studies are revealing that there is an increase in anxiety and depression and a decrease in self-esteem linked to the use of cell phones at night.
Here are a few ways to help you help your children manage their screen time.
- Develop your own set of family rules. Use our template to develop your own Screen-free Summer Rules around screen time that makes sense for your own family.
- Set screen limits. It’s helpful to sit down as a family to discuss what everyone thinks about setting limits. You may be surprised when the kids come back with their own ideas about how much screen time they should be allowed.
For children under two years of age, screen time of any amount is not recommended.
For children aged two to four years, screen time should be limited to no more than one hour each day.
Children aged five to 17 years should limit recreational screen time to a maximum of two hours daily.
- Keep mealtime screen free. Enjoy family meals together. Free-flow the conversation so that children develop social skills and the ability to put forth their ideas in a safe and judgment-free zone.
- Set a healthy example. Parents, limit your own screen time so that children can learn by example. We sometimes get caught up in the youtube or social media hole where inevitably we end up spending an inordinate amount of time, scrolling through videos or Instagram accounts. The algorithms seem to know us so well. So, if we have trouble controlling the impulse to watch just one more thing, imagine how difficult it is for kids who have not developed the impulse control.
- Get outside. Encourage the kids to spend some time outdoors no matter what the weather. You can enjoy fun activities in the summer and winter. Kids may balk at first but they will really enjoy the freedom that nature has to offer. Check out our list of Screen-free Summer List and add your own in too!
- Don’t fall for the “I’m bored” trap. It is a person’s own responsibility to keep oneself entertained from an early age and one that is easily managed. Have a list of chores at the ready to respond to any of these pleas. Your kids will soon learn to find plenty of ways to keep themselves entertained if you only offer chores as an option when they come to you for entertainment.
- Set aside one night a week for screen-free fun. Schedule the nights in your Family Organizer and get the kids involved in picking the family activity. Game nights, puzzle building and bake-offs are popular family activities where older kids can even invite friends to join in.
- Keep screens out of the bedroom. Enforce universal digital curfews and keep mobile and charging stations out of the bedroom. Use alarm clocks instead of phones to wake up in the morning. This will remove the temptation to get up in the night and scroll through when you can not sleep. Kids can be conditioned to develop healthy sleep patterns which makes daily life much more manageable. Kids and teens need at least 9 hours of sleep per night.
So if we practice and model “Take responsibility first before you can have the freedom to use your screen” or “Do what you have to do before what you want to do.”, our kids will follow suit. With our help, children will learn how to come up with their own personal strategies and create confidence that they have what they need to deal with the seductive issue of screen time.
Make It Stop! Tired of Netflix automatically playing the next show?
Turn it off! Here’s how.
- Log in to Netflix on your computer. Go to Manage Profiles and click the Kids profile.
- Unclick the Kids box, click Save, then Done.
- Go into the Kids profile, go to the drop-down menu on the right and click on Account.
- In My Profile, under Playback Settings, you can turn off Auto-Play.
- Go back to Manage Profiles and check the box to turn it into a Kids profile again, to ensure only age-appropriate options will be accessible.