How to Effectively Monitor Your Children’s Screen Time
Natalie writes: We live in a digital world; from computers to tablets to telephones and televisions, we are face to face with screens more than ever before. For many adults, screens are a relatively new part of life but many children in today’s world have never known life without them.
Kids today not only love technology, they have a remarkably intuitive understanding of how it works. Whether it’s a computer game, playing with their friends on the internet or manoeuvring a new gaming console, children possess the unique ability to understand the language of technology in a way that many parents struggle to keep up with.
With technologies and apps designed specifically for preschool aged children and sometimes even younger, the idea of ‘screen time’ becomes an important consideration for modern parents. This in mind, here are some great tips for parents looking to create structured screen time schedules for kids and positive relationships with technology for the whole family.
Make Sure Everything is Age Appropriate
The internet is vast and contains all types of information. A lot of it is not appropriate for young children (article in The Guardian). When setting up internet or television accounts, take advantage of the parental control settings and use passwords or timers to ensure your kids aren’t seeing anything they’re not old enough to understand. With younger children, try to make time spent with technology productive and educational, establishing good habits from a young age will pay off in the long run.
Whenever possible, try to get involved with your children’s relationship with technology. Watch what they watch, learn to play some of their favourite games and find programming that entertains you both. Making an effort to understand what your children spend their time doing, watching or playing on various screens will open up a dialogue and enable you to relate to them in new and important ways. Set weekly dates to watch a show the whole family likes or find games that you can play together, even if it’s just for a half an hour a week.
Set Limits Early
Establishing boundaries and time limits as they relate to screen time are most effective when they’re implemented from an early age. This enables parents and children to develop positive habits as they relate to technology and to understand that there are plenty of other ways to spend time beyond starting at a screen all day. Make sure as a parent you’re flexible with your rules and maybe consider adding screen time as a reward for good behaviour or to mark a special occasion. Above all be sure to regularly reevaluate your rules as your children grow and develop.
As school work has also gone the way of technology and many kids now require computers to complete assignments, this presents an interesting dilemma for parents as it requires a more diligent approach to technological monitoring. However, so long as you have rules in place and balance their screen time with physical exercise and family time, there’s no reason your kids can’t have a healthy relationship with computers.
Natalie Bailey lives with her family in Manchester and works part-time as an online journalist, specialising in parenting advice and practical tips for other families.
Image by Orin Zebest, used under Creative Comms license.