Every parent knows too well the wars that will rage with their children over device usage and screen time. Here are some practical tips for how to manage your child’s device use in a positive and constructive manner (and avoid WWIII).
Set clear guidelines
It’s important to set daily limits for screen time based on your child’s age. It’s recommended that children aged 5 to 18 should keep their screen time to under two hours per day. Enforcing that is easier said than done but introducing simple rules about when your kids can be online (i.e. no screens after lunch) will ensure your expectations are clear and easy to follow.
Download parental control apps
If you want to make daily limits more official, work with your kids to create a balanced online schedule using a parental control app like Our Pact. The app allows you to set limits on how much time your kids can spend on their devices while blocking inappropriate content.
Use a smart router
Similar to a parental control app, a smart router helps you set time limits for your child’s online access. Parental control routers like KoalaSafe and HomeHalo* create a children’s Wi-Fi network and keep watch over all devices connected to it. If your child reaches the time limit set for internet access, they can request an extension which you can approve or decline via the app.
Keep your children’s devices in full view
Instead of allowing your kids to use their computers in the privacy of their bedrooms, set them up in a communal living area. That way you can keep an eye on what they are accessing and how long they are spending online while ensuring they finish their homework.
Leave your devices at the door
If you want to effectively manage your kids screen time, lead by example. When you get home from work or running errands, pop your smartphone and tablet in a tub at the front door and leave your laptop in its case. By tuning out of the digital world, you’ll model the importance and benefits of screen-free family time.
Then keep it going with device-free dinners
It’s easy for everyone in the family to glance over at their smartphone, or tablet during meal times and it can be a hard habit to break. Switching off all devices during dinner will send a good message about limiting screen time and help all of you to focus on the conversation at hand.
Ask lots of questions
Take an active interest in what your child is doing online. If they are playing a game, ask them how it works. If they’re watching a vlog, ask about its creator and why they like them. Talking about the content your kids are drawn to will make them think about what they are doing and the conversation may encourage them away from the screen.
Then talk some more
Chatting to your kids about how much screen time is acceptable and what content is appropriate will encourage them to self-manage their online activity and make better choices about the amount of time they are spending online.
Encourage structured activities
Got a sports mad kid or a budding ballerina? Encourage and support their interests and hobbies by signing them up for lessons, competitions and events. It’ll help them connect with their peers outside of social media and develop their confidence.
And arrange fun non-structured ones
Keep your kids entertained and stimulated through a range of non-digital activities. If the weather is good, get them outside for a play at the park or go to the beach with an old-school frisbee. Take them to museums and outdoor markets when you get the chance, it’s all about balance.
Limiting the amount of time your kids spend online can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be an all-out battle. Setting clear boundaries and creating an environment of mutual respect is a great place to start. Like all things, communication (and moderation) is key.
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