Limit setting is inseparable from being a parent. Whether it’s helping your kid learn to collect their toys after playtime or teaching them manners, you as a parent have a guiding role in distinguishing what behaviors are acceptable and which are not.
The digital technology and challenges that smartphones, tablets and other devices bring to the table are not so much different. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your kids how to use technology responsibly by setting screen time limit.
We’ve collected the essential elements of how to approach limiting your kids’ screen time in a way that minimizes the arguments and sulking.
Parents are primary role-models for younger children. The children look up to you to see which behaviors are desired and then shape their habits to be like yours. So, if you or your partner are “just checking” your phone to catch up the latest email during a family meal, it’s difficult to expect your kids not to want to do the same.
The screen-free time should apply to you as well, at least during family meals, playtime or family activities. Too much screen time is not good for you either. Besides, while you’re spending time looking at the screen, your kids are probably doing something far more interesting.
Making a shift from the endless arguments about screentime toward actual communication with your children about why screen time rules are necessary is challenging. But it is possible. Of course, you might not be able to explain some aspects to the younger kids, but you can always use a tactic that involves spending more time with you, doing something interesting as opposed to interacting with the device.
The younger children can’t always separate the real and the virtual world. This is one of the reasons why advertising, online content and social media can have a very negative impact on children. You as a parent should be there to help them learn the difference. Ensure you are there while they consume the material to be able to offer them an adequate perspective.
Digital technology might have its downsides when overused, but ultimately it is a tool that can improve our lives in many areas, too. It’s all about the balance. Smartphones, tablets and similar devices offer straightforward ways to manage the use, and screen time apps for kids can take a bit of a load off your shoulders as a parent.
If you’re looking for an easy to setup screen time app for kids, then Sowi app might be an excellent choice for you. Screen time apps like Sowi simply disable the apps during the times you specify, for example at bedtime. For parents who have older children and are looking to also monitor their teens’ online activity, parental control apps might be a better choice.
Your kids might hate you at the moment when you take away their smartphone, but they will be grateful for the limits in the long-term. You are helping them learn the valuable lesson that we can’t always do the things we like or enjoy. Take the opportunity to teach your kids that sometimes we have to finish the difficult task first, and then treat ourselves with a game, TV-time or chat with friends.
Screen time can be a helpful tool for building productive habits if you use it as a reward for a job well done. For example, if your kid cleans their room, they can have an extra 15 minutes of screentime.
Many kids spend too much time on their smart devices because it is just easier for parents to turn on the TV, download an app or let them play a video game than to plan an engaging and creative activity. But there are plenty of quality activities that are not costly, and the effort they require is worth all the benefits they provide.
Reading a book and playing a board game can stimulate the imagination, as can a watching a play at the kid’s theater. Outdoors activities like a trip to the local park or taking your kids out for a picnic also stimulate the physical development and help kids develop motor skills.
What is the biggest obstacle you are facing when trying to balance your kids’ screen time? Tell us more in the comments below.
Nikolina is a psychologist (BSc) and a school counsellor. She focuses on writing about childhood development and other mental health topics in an easy-to-understand and fact-based manner. Nikolina’s writing about mental health matters relies on acceptance and mindfulness-based psychotherapy approaches.
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