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How Modern Parents can Limit their Children’s Screen Time

Added August 16, 2019, Under: Children's Health, Insomnia, Parents

It is a common concern among parents today – and that is how much “screen time” their children are spending on their different devices.

But what are the solutions?

Here in the UK, nearly twenty five percent of parents say they use pocket money to bribe their children away from their screens.  And such bribes are not limited to screen time, they are used for getting them to bed on time and to encourage them to get on with their homework too.

In more research, two-thirds of parents surveyed say they pay their children to carry out chores – tidying their rooms, cleaning or washing up and more.  Three out of ten of these same parents say they would be willing to withhold pocket money payment if the work was not up to scratch!

But perhaps bribing is not the way to go

Here are some suggestions instead…

Setting a good role model by parents for healthy electronics use

For example, if you tend to keep the TV on in the background for hours at a time or you spend every spare minute of your own scrolling through your smart phone, this could be teaching your children that it is the normal way to live.

Educating yourself on technology

We have to face up to the fact that, for the most part, children are going to know more about technology than their parents.  That is why it is even more important for parents to stay up-to-date on the latest cell phone app or social media craze.  Grandparents will soon learn that by the time they take something on board, their grandchildren will have already long moved onto something new!
It is vital that parents teach their children the risks of social media but the parents themselves first need to understand the dangers.  And the same goes for playing video games.

Creating “technology-free zones and times”

We know you won’t be that popular if you introduce such zones and times but it can be sanity-saving for some families.  Making the dining room or kitchen table a technology-free zone when it is meal times is one suggestion, encouraging family conversation and interaction.  Some families will even go further by setting aside times for the entire family to unplug from their devices.

Parental controls have their uses

 They can especially protect children from explicit content on TV and online.  You can go further by using parental controls that allow you to monitor what your children are viewing on TV and what they’re doing online.

Explaining the dangers of too much screen time

It is so much better to have the conversation and interaction about why rather than just laying down the law.  Explain how  violent video games, movies and images can be harmful to children while discussing the potential dangers of online predators. Include your children and get their feedback on how you can work together as a family to reduce potential risks.

Eye health is vital too

But it starts with the young…

Using a computer, watching TV or staring at a small screen on a video game or a smart phone can all make the eyes feel dry and tired.  Myopia is on the increase.  New research was undertaken because of the increasing number of short sighted school children in South East Asia. The number for example in China is now between 80 to 90% and that figure is rising.  Although not at the same rate, short sightedness in the young is on the increase in other countries too.  Spending more time outdoors is good for children’s eye health.

Your children’s passwords

It all depends on your children’s ages but it may well make sense to have their passwords to any social media or online accounts.  At the same time, it can be important to establish rules about social media and the services they want to participate in.  Sadly, cyber bullying has become hugely problematic for many children.  It’s important to take responsibility for helping your child stay safe if he’s using social media – and just as important to ensure that they are not doing any cyber bullying themselves.

Be wary of allowing screen media in your child’s bedroom

Unfortunately, it is not possible to monitor a child’s screen media use if it’s allowed in the bedroom.  And apart from possible harm from the devices themselves or their content, many children will not be able to resist checking their smart phone or other devices late at night – possibly severely interfering with their sleep.

As a last resort, making screen time a privilege

If in spite of following all the suggestions above, the amount of time your children spend in front of a screen is not doing their health any good, consider limiting the screen time allowed.   Once you’ve set a limit on how much screen time is allowed, don’t be tempted to offer extra screen time as a reward.

And to sum up…

Encouraging your children to live a balanced life

We all want our children to grow up independent and well rounded.  This means a healthy balance between school, enjoying the outdoors, participating in sport, playing games, helping to grow things, a love of reading as well as keeping up with technology – it is their future after all.

 

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