HOW TO UNPLUG: Win The Battle Of Screen Time With Kids
When many of us were children, “screen time” was often associated with how much time we spent in front of the old “boob tube.” Compared to today’s technology, it wasn’t “all that” compared to the omnipresent devices our kids have at their disposal. Whether it’s the overwhelming time they seem to spend on their smartphone, a gaming console, tablet, computer and perhaps lastly viewing the TV, it seems like this list goes on and on … and so does the time they spend on these devices day after day, hour after hour.
In the distant past, some of our parents may have simply turned off the television at night, we were sent to our rooms and this age-old disagreement was over and done with very quickly and quietly. But the times … they have already changed … and this screen-related battle continues. But today it’s on a much larger scale compared to the times of those “Happy Days” we spent in front of the television.
Boundaries Begin With Age Limits
You certainly can’t yank a full grown teenager off their signature smartphone “cold turkey,” because they’ll go through angry and unsettling withdrawals–usually directed towards you as a parent. This is why you need to begin with limitations, restrictions and usage requirements before putting this device into their hands.
Start off slowly and build them up to a level that begats this type of responsible behavior. Average recommendations from pediatric professionals when it comes to technology and screen time usually go as follows:
- Infants: Limited use of technology should only involve video chatting with close relatives and/or family members that will occur as minimally as possible given their tender age.
- Toddlers: For children ages two through five, monitor their screen time closely and keep it to about thirty minutes per day while ensuring it’s high-quality programming that’s age-appropriate and educational.
- Early Elementary Age: While interaction with technology is key to them evolving in today’s tech-savvy world, but this time should still be limited to about an hour per day.
- Younger School Days: Begin putting appropriate off-screen time lines into effect and start putting restrictions into place whenever it’s appropriate – these instances will include off limits events, during meals, study hour, before bedtime, etc.
- Junior High Life: Begin to differentiate the times that screen time is necessary for things like homework and separate recreational time and apply appropriate limitations.
- High School: Your teen will spend plenty of time online while they’re away from home so be sure to reign in their screen time while they are under your roof. A couple hours per day is more than enough recreational time online.
Remember as children continue to grow, they’ll be spending plenty of time on the internet, in front of screens almost all day long, on their smartphones, behind computers while they’re at school and during other downtime while they’re away, just as many of us do while we’re at work. Once we all arrive home, screen time should be dropped and focused on family time instead.