Kids are spending more and more time on screens than ever before. In 2017, the Common Sense Media Report did a study that showed how kids under 2 years old spent on average 42 minutes a day on the screen. Children between the ages of 2 and 8 spent nearly 3 hours on their screens. The study also revealed that in 2011, 4% of the screen time was spent on a mobile device compared to 2017 where 35% of the time was on a mobile device. Screen time isn’t necessarily bad; however, too much of it can stop your children from expanding their imaginations, playing with other children, and learn needed social skills. That is why it’s important to find a balance between how much time they spend looking at a screen and how much time they socializing or doing creative activities. Here are some of the best, and most effective, ways that you can help your kids to limit their screen time and understand why they need to do it.
1. Put the Phones Away Before Bed
One of the things that you should do is have your children turn in any phones or other mobile devices several hours before bed. Throughout the day, kids will go on social media occasionally or watch a video, but not for an extended period of time. Kids are most likely to use a device with a screen before bed when the activities of the day are winding down. However, there are some drawbacks to this habit.
First, children are more likely to be exposed to questionable content at night when they have no supervision. If you’re worried about the content that your child sees, then this is definitely something that you should be aware of.
Another reason why this is a bad habit for kids to get into is because of the blue light that is emitted from the screen. Blue light can disrupt the child's circadian rhythm cycle (and adults for that matter) and so looking at a screen too close to bedtime makes it harder for them to fall asleep. Make it a habit to have your children turn in their phones several hours before bed so that they can focus on family-friendly activities or other activities that will make them more productive in the long-run.
2. Put a Time Limit on Social Media
Another great thing that you can do to help your children limit their time on social media is by putting a limit on their social media time. Social media is often what uses up the most time. You can easily solve this by setting a limit on the amount of time that they spend on it. Today there are a lot of apps that allow you to have control over how much time is spent on certain websites. They also allow you to view what types of websites your child has been visiting. For parents concerned with content restistriction (restricting violent content, pornography, and other sites), this is a great opportunity to help your child see what is best for them.
3. Explain “Why”
With every rule that you set for your child, you should always explain why you make that rule. Children ask “why” often not because they know how frustrating of a question it is for you. They ask why because they are trying to understand the world and they think that you know most of the answers. They learn from you. So, when they ask why to one of the rules that you put in place, explain. Explain as much as you can in detail so that they can have a full understanding of the rule and understand how it can protect and help them.
You shouldn’t completely cut out electronics from your child’s life. However, there is nothing wrong with limiting the time that they spend. When they’re not on their electronics, encourage them to place with their siblings and help them to do things that improve their social skills and their imagination.