YOUR KIDS AND TEENS (AND YOU) WILL BENEFIT FROM THESE SIX SOLUTIONS TO THEIR SCREEN TIME WOES

We still understand how the brains of children and teens develop. Their experiences each day, what we may call ‘input,’ create learning and new brain pathways. The term “experiences” encompasses both the virtual and the online. What are the long-term repercussions of all this screen time on the growing brains of young people?

Toddlers 18 months and under should not have any screen time, except for video calls, medical experts say (such as with a grandparent). There should be no more than one hour a day for children between 2 and 5. Watching something on the internet with an adult who can talk to the child about it is the best strategy to enhance language development in children.

The rules for older children and teenagers are less clear. Not all screen time is created equal. Playing an instructive game is certainly not the same as watching a violent movie. How-to videos on YouTube aren’t the same as zoning out when talking to your youngster while playing an online puzzle game.

Learning to control one’s screen time is essential for children. Take advantage of good parenting techniques.

Spending too much time on your computer is well-known. Many of us already know about sleep difficulty and lack of physical activity as examples of these issues. Other examples include a possible deterioration in critical thinking abilities. Aside from toddlers and teenagers, adults are also vulnerable to similar problems.

Luckily, you can take a few baby steps starting now (or tonight, depending on your schedule) to get your life back. Set boundaries for your children, but remember that you’ll also need self-discipline. Never be too hard on yourself or give up if you don’t have the perfect combination of activities right immediately. It’s all about long-term planning and teamwork.

1. Make sure everyone knows how important it is to avoid using screens for a few hours before bed.

Make it a rule that no electronic devices are allowed in bedrooms, especially at night, to limit children’s time staring at screens. Keep phones and tablets out of bedrooms. It isn’t easy when your child uses their computer for schoolwork and assignments. Be on the lookout for any students who have swapped textbooks for a video-sharing app like TikTok by popping in every so often. Children who insist on music to help them sleep or study may benefit from using an old-fashioned radio or CD player.

2. Set family boundaries and establish screen-free zones (yes, even your favorite streaming services and the TV).

It’s ideal if you establish this rule from an early age, but if that isn’t possible, decide on a time when everyone will commit to turning off their devices. For example, allowing screens during family meals or traveling short distances would lack dialogue. Avoid isolating yourself with your electronic devices by encouraging people to interact with one other instead.

3. Negotiate gadget access in exchange for chores and homework if your children are having difficulty managing their own screen time.

Instead of using screen time as a bargaining tool, focus on building relationships and helping your child or adolescent grow. Also, it’s best not to remove devices as the initial step. Removal should only be utilized when there are long-term issues with screen or internet use, like spending lots of time staring at the computer or not adhering to regulations concerning appropriate use.

4. As part of your daily family discussions, teach your children the value of discretion and evaluation.

Rather than imposing arbitrary boundaries, encourage open dialogue. This is an excellent tool if you’re concerned about what your children or teenagers are looking at online. Children and teenagers should be guided on how to recognize sites and posts or information that is illegal, pornographic or dubious, bullying (or even all of the above) and to agree on what actions will be taken. And if you’re downloading unauthorized music and movies or engaging in tense online discussions, you’ll have a hard time persuading them to follow the rules yourself.

5. Consider adding more physical activity to your daily routine. It’s unnecessary to sign up for a gym membership or run a marathon.

Going for a walk in the evening can be an excellent starting point. Can you remember when you last visited your neighborhood’s green space? You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it! Consider learning a new skill like rock climbing, sailing, or flying a kite to get your adrenaline pumping. Real-life encounters beyond what you can get on a screen are a great way to broaden your horizons.

6. Keep the dialogue going by focusing on the positives.

While some parents are concerned about their children’s excessive screen time, others are concerned about their own. Respectful discussion of the issues will be difficult if you are (or appear to be) anti-technology. Try to involve your children in the process of keeping you up-to-date on the latest technological developments.

Some of these methods may be simpler or more difficult for you than others. Parents who find themselves frequently at odds with their children over their technology usage may want some extra aid in refining their approach and keeping track of what works.

Helpful related article: BIG KIDS‘ SCREEN TIME RESTRICTIONSSCREEN TIME RESTRICTIONS FOR TEENAGERS, PRESCHOOLER’S SCREEN TIME RESTRICTIONS