While raising children in a highly technological age, you may feel like they are always on their devices. Phones, tablets, computers, television, and gaming consults can consume all of your child’s time, affecting their social abilities, grades, and their connection with the rest of the family. While it might feel like an impossible task to give them time away from screens, there are resources available to help any parent seeking to improve the growth of their child. Here are just four ways that you can work with your child to balance their real lives with their virtual ones.
Provide A Full Schedule
Part of the allure of screen time is that you never have to be bored. In a world that is increasingly fast pace, idle hands become desperate for a quick-click app, a rapidly paced television show, or a cat video to keep the mind engaged. However, these idle time-wasters can be eliminated when your children have ample options to choose from to keep them occupied. Books, board games, and toys that can be played outside were the fillers of idle time from previous generations, and they are just as fun now as they were then. Sit down and teach your children new hobbies such as cooking, sewing, piano playing, and other practical activities that will give them something more real and tangible than a screen can provide. This will take some discipline and supervision on your part to transition them away from the screens, but if the activity is sufficiently engaging, they won’t even miss the screens.
Utilize Parenting Apps
Due to the progression of the modern world, it is impossible to entirely remove screens from your child’s life, and it would be foolish and damaging to try. However, that doesn’t mean that electronics need to be allowed to consume their life. There are many parenting apps available, both free and paid, that allow you to remotely monitor your child’s devices. You can see how much time they’re spending, set timers for how much time the internet is on, even give conditional rules that prevent their devices from accessing mature content. Know your internet service provider information and connect your account to a parent monitoring service, and then limiting internet activity in your home will be easy, intuitive, and won’t require the confrontation of physically taking away the devices in question.
Enjoy Television as a Family
Constant access to television can lead to overconsumption, preventing your child from exploring other activities. However, if they come to see television use as a family activity, then their viewing will be much more structured. Whether you choose to make a tradition out of Saturday morning cartoons and pancakes for breakfast or a weeknight movie with pizza, maintaining the television as a family activity will let your child know that there is a specific time and place to view, and discourage watching television shows on their own. This gives you control over the when, where, and what your child watches, as well.
Prohibit Electronics in the Bedroom
Make sure that electronics never make it to the bedrooms. Having a phone on hand encourages your child to curl up in bed, put on videos or tap away at apps, and remain in place for long periods of time. This isolates them from the family, decreases physical activity, and can be damaging to your child’s ability to get regular sleep. The blue light that comes from the LED screens imitates sunlight, making it harder to fall asleep and creating less effective sleep overall. Overall, having devices of any kind in the bedroom is extremely unhealthy for your child, and all device activity should be limited to common areas, such as the living room.
It’s best to start these practices when your children are younger. Once good habits are established, they are easier to maintain through a child’s lifetime. Too many parents fall into the trap of using tablets and phones to keep children still and behaved when they are small, creating a pattern of addiction that is hard to break away from as they grow into adolescence. Don’t wait to work with your children to create responsible media-consumptions habits.
By Meghan Belnap
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.