Screen time is one of the most debated subjects in most family homes. While it may be difficult to find what works best for your family, having the right rules in place can help the whole family enjoy screen time even more.
As parents ourselves, we’ve learned how important it is to implement screen time rules for our families. We’ve learned that having rules in place is the easiest way to get a better reaction from all of our kids and minimize screen time tantrums or arguments.
We’re always looking for ways to manage our children’s online experience in a way that can maximize its benefits.
Why you should set screen-time rules
Children today have access to more screens than ever before and with that comes benefits and disadvantages. A huge array of information is available to them at the click of the button. There is no longer the need for long trips or hours spent buried in books at the library. Entertainment can easily be accessed through streaming, video games, and apps and communication with friends and family all over the world can be accomplished in seconds.
The challenge with technology is that many kids are spending too much time online and are struggling to find a healthy balance. According to HealthyChildren.org, “by their teens, kids spend nearly 7 hours a day using screened-based media, watching TV, playing video games, and using social media; this doesn’t include additional time spent using screens at school or for homework.”
Try and follow these rules for your family, for safe screen time consumption:
1. Custom Rules for Each Child
Every child is different and as such, different rules may be appropriate. Whether those differences come in age or in maturity, parents should take the time to carefully consider what will work for each of their children. Some kids may need more guidance as to what kind of content is appropriate, while others may just need more limitations as to how much screen time is okay.
Screen time is an amazing tool that can have so many uses and benefits for kids, but too much of anything is never a good thing. According to studies, increased screen time can lead to depression, higher BMIs, and poor sleep. Setting limits can teach your kids how to use screens and social media in a mindful way. Encourage your child to have other interests and hobbies that don’t include tech and help them become more well-rounded individuals.
3. Use Technology with Real Life Skills
Learning can be enriched with technology when used in moderation and it can be very effective in assisting with homework. The Internet and screens can also be a great place to learn valuable life skills. Kids can become better communicators, learn the values of team work while playing games, and it can even help kids build confidence as they earn badges or increase their score.
4. Engage with Your Child During Screen Time
Actively engaging with your child during their screen time use can make it much more enriching for everyone involved. Not only do you and your kids get in some great bonding time but it’s great for parents to be able to understand what their children are doing online. Whether that’s playing a video game or learning about a new topic, it can be something that you both remember for the rest of your life.
5. Set an Example
Practice what you preach. How we can expect our kids to follow rules if we are not doing the same? While standards and rules will vary a bit between different members of the family, there are some things that parents should make sure they are doing consistently. Make sure that you can fully be present when talking with or participating in an activity with your child. Making eye contact and listening to what your children have communicated will set a proper example for phone etiquette.
6. Device-Free Times & Zones
Creating device-free zones in your home is a great opportunity to connect as a family. In the dining room and at meal times are a good example of this. Your family can all be together and talk about the day without the distraction of technology. The iKydz meal-time function is a firm favorite with parents and enables you to switch off all connected internet devices at the touch of one button, so that families can spend that quality time together.
Bedrooms are also a great idea for a device-free zone. Keeping bedrooms tech-free makes it easy to supervise what your family is doing online and also prevents kids from spending too much time scrolling through their phones, especially late into the night.
7. Diversify Screen Time
While too much screen time in general isn’t a good thing, there are some benefits to making sure your family gets to experience a multitude of online activities. Games can be highly addictive and substituting them with other forms of educational or entertainment screen time can be an easy way of preventing addictive tendencies without taking away screen time altogether.
8. Don’t use a Device as a Babysitter
Using technology as a babysitter to earn yourself a few free minutes in the afternoon can quickly go downhill. Technology is great way for both parents and kids to relax but depending on it too much can set your family up for tech addiction.
Without realizing it, adults and kids alike reach for screens and whenever we have a free second and it has become second nature for us to depend on our screens for entertainment, procrastination, and approval from our peers. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and we really don’t want it to, so we have to strive to find some middle ground where we can use technology in positive and fun ways without letting it consume us.
9. Do Your Homework & Set Up Proper Limits
As important as it is to set rules for your kids regarding screen time and the type of content that you allow your kids to access, it is equally as important for parents to do their due diligence. Before agreeing to let your child download a new app, parents should take time to explore the apps, games, and social platforms that their kids are interested in using.
In doing so, you not only have the ability to determine if they are age and content appropriate, but you can also create the opportunity to connect with your child through the activities that engage them online or in-app.
Compliment common sense parenting with iKydz and set up blocks, filters and manage the amount of internet screen-time each person in your family has.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Screen Time?
As with almost everything, moderation is the key. Especially when it comes to screen-time and there is such a thing as “too much screen time”. The aim of any app and game developer is to get users to continue to engage with their product for as long as they can. They carefully engineer features in most apps, games, and streaming platforms to entice us to continue scrolling and playing “just one more game”. Parents have the thankless task of teaching our children how to self-regulate themselves and to develop a more balanced relationship with technology.
As stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, too much screen time can lead to myriad of issues including:
- Less and lower quality sleep
- Increased BMI
- Technology addiction
- Increased likelihood of being cyberbullied
- Decreased cognitive development
UNICEF reports that “adolescents and young people are the most connected generation and that children under 18 represent 1 in 3 Internet users worldwide.” By creating rules and setting boundaries that work for your family, you will improve family dynamics, relationships and your health.
Screen Time Recommendations for Kids
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), screen time recommendations vary for children of different ages. Parents should avoid screen time for children 18 months and younger, but there is evidence to suggest that video chatting does provide benefits for kids at this age.
For children 2-5 years of age, it is recommended that parents limit screen time to only one hour of high-quality media each day. Parents should also take part in this media to help your children comprehend it better as well as learn how to apply in their own lives.
Lastly for children 6 and older, the AAP recommends that parents create consistent rules surrounding screen time use and ensure that the use of media is not taking a toll on otherwise healthy counterpart of their lives.
You can easily set screen-time for each child from within the iKydz Parental Controller App.
Is iKydz Right for My Family?
It can be useful for any family, especially since one of the most difficult parts of managing the digital lives of our children is keeping up with what they’re doing online.
It gives parents piece of mind that any unsuitable content is blocked, while still allowing the child freedom to explore all that the internet has to offer for a moderate amount of time. This enriched their own social lives and blocking any unsuitable content.
You know your kids best and understand first hand what sort of structure they might need to have in place.
With iKydz, parents can block which apps, set up individual filters for each device and schedule daily and weekly screen time use, and even pause the Internet. iKydz help parents take the guesswork out of managing their child’s screen time activities, giving total internet control.