Saying no to your kids is hard. But being their parent, it’s your job to do what’s best for your kids when they can’t do it for themselves.
Whether it’s guiding them up in the real world or educating them on the pitfalls of today’s digitally fueled landscape, you need to do it all.
Technology is surely a great thing. Your kids won’t be attending online classes if it weren’t for technology. But it doesn’t mean that you will let your children bathe in screen time. You need to control it somehow.
Now when I am saying that you need to manage kids’ screen time, I don’t mean you snatch their smartphones or ground them for a week. That would leave a bad impression on them (and don’t forget that unstoppable whining).
You must be respectful of their emotions and help them strike the right balance between screen time and other activities. I will walk you through some easy tips for managing kids’ screen time while making technology work for your family.
Kids Screen Time Statistics
Kids and technology are almost inseparable these days. Their gadgets are taking a place at the dinner table too. No matter if they are eating or you are dropping them at school, they always have a YouTube video playing on their screen.
In the UK alone, children between the age of 5 and 16 years consume an average of 6 to 7 hours of screen time every day. It includes 2-3 hours watching television, about 2 hours surfing the internet, around 1-2 hours playing online video games and over an hour on their smartphones.
Kids’ screen time statistics are going through the roof. The government is advocating measures to control this situation. In the UK, most social media companies have an age restriction policy and only allow access to children above 13.
Also, as per the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), if you are rendering your online services directly to a child, only those 13 or above are able to give their own consent to process their personal data.
Why is Kids Screen Time a Problem?
Kids have easy access to technology these days. And while there is a lot to learn from the internet, what about the effects of screen time on your child’s development?
Up to the age of 3, kids learn by observing their surroundings, the adults and copying their actions. But when they have screens flashing before their eyes, they may not be so observant and it will affect their development.
Moreover, a child’s vision is not fully developed until the age of 8. So, when their eyes are exposed to innumerable hours of blue light, it will hamper this development too.
Everything that your children register in their brain comes from the visual impressions they process every day. Thus, screen time won’t only affect their development but will also cost them in the ‘learning’ aspect of their lives.
When it comes to kids’ eye tests, you have to be regular. Take your child for a regular eye test every year. Keeping tabs on their eye health will help you better look after their vision and overall health.
Did You Know
Kids would never complain about eyesight problems as they think as everybody else sees the world the same way as them.
Tips to Limit Kids Screen Time
Going easy on your kids is the key to get them to do things. Rather than shouting, obey your parents at the top of your lungs, sit them down and have a philosophical chat with them. Kids are smart, they would know what you mean.
1. Have a Family Time
Put aside your devices and plan some exclusive time with the family. Dinner time is the best moment to catch up with your kids and know what they have been up to all day.
You can even take it up a notch by planning family vacations over the weekend or holidays. Unplug from the digital world and spend some quality time together.
And even with the small amount of time they get to use their devices, make sure they wear blue light blocking glasses to protect their eyes.
2. Be a Role Model
Kids are imitating creatures. They imitate your actions and even take up the same habits as you. So, if you can’t keep yourself away from your smartphone when you have a spare minute, how would you limit kids’ screen time?
Make sure you practice the positive behaviour that you are expecting to see in your kids. Once you step towards digital detox, they will follow.
3. Make Technology a Topic of Discussion
You don’t have to take out time to discuss the consequences of technology with your kids, you may end up making them bored.
What’s better is that you take it as a healthy everyday discussion that happens in your family. Just like you discuss whose turn it is to do the dishes today or where to go on the next family vacation, technology should get the same consideration.
This way, your child won’t feel that you are trying to pressure them into something. On the flip side, you may get to learn about their tech experiences and give your inputs on how they can make them better and safer.
4. Educate Yourself on Technology
Kids these days are smart and tech-savvy. They know more about technology than we do. So you need to catch up with them (or maybe stay a step ahead) to manage your kid’s screen time.
Did you know that there are so many violent video games out there? Find out more about the kinds of games your kids play as some of them may even lead to aggressive behaviour. Also, make sure you get them gaming glasses to cut off the negative impact of screen time.
When you are well-versed with the social platforms and other media they use, you can teach your children about the risk associated with these online entertainment tools. And when they believe that you know more than them, they will take your advice and suggestions seriously.
Other Fun Alternatives to Limit Kids Screen Time
Letting your children know about the different ways they have to spend their spare time will take their minds off of the screens.
1. Explore Outside
Encourage outdoor sports and activities among your children. Whether they are playing football or skateboarding, you can make sure that their eyes are safe. Moreover, outdoor sports are extremely crucial for their physical growth as well.
Managing kids’ screen time is easy when they have other fun activities to do. If they want to go outside and play with their friends, don’t stop them.
2. Let them Help You with Household Chores
I don’t mean that you get them to sweep floors. If you have toddlers running around the house, you can teach them small things such as how to fold clothes or do dishes. These things will help them in the future when they become self-dependent and have to do their own chores.
3. Appreciate the Craft
Watching your kids draw on the canvas in the backyard while you soak up the sun is a beautiful way to spend your day. Appreciating their craft and art work will bring out their creative side which will help them in the long run.
Watching a DIY video on YouTube and trying it with your kids will work as an interesting bonding session. You can come up with more of these fun activities to limit kids’ screen time.
4. Traditional Indoor Games
Playing board games is a nice way to spend an evening together with family. Solving jigsaw puzzles or playing a chess match acts as a mental workout that keeps your child’s brain sharp. If you have more than one kid, these games are the best to help the siblings bond with each other.
5. Encourage Reading
Instead of buying their favourite video game, get a book that you think they will be interested in. Make reading fun for your kids by acting out the instances in the stories. This will make learning easier for them and you won’t have to worry about screen time.
Taking care of your child’s health is your job and so is managing your kids’ screen time. Make sure their eyes are happy as well. Encourage them to build healthy screen habits and don’t forget to take them for the NHS eye test every year.