7 Steps to Managing Your Child’s Screen Time

By: Tanvi Maharaja

boy on ipad

Are you tired of asking your kids to put down their phones or tablets? Do your kids listen? Trust me, they do. But sometimes, they just choose to ignore it.

How long did you have to yell the last time you asked your child to stay away from the screen? Online games on Xbox/Playstation (Fortnite, anyone?), TV, computer games, tablets, phones…the list is endless. Kids can’t seem to have enough! You tear them away from one screen and POP! Up comes the next one!

Stop tearing your hair out.
Here’s a list of 7 little things that go a long way to keep things real and limit the amount of time your child will spend staring into bright, blinding screens:

Be Sneaky

Yes, cheat! Just telling them to shut the screen isn’t going to cut it. Go and sit with them for a few minutes and engage them in conversation. Talk to them about the game they are playing, show interest (of course you can fake it!) in the goings on on the screen. Ask questions, thus gently drawing their focus away from the game and diverting the conversation to the next fun thing waiting for them.

The Next Fun Thing

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Make a list of all the things your child loves and keep these activities ready. Ask your child, “What 10 things would you do if we lost power and didn’t have any devices charged?” That’s right, set a trap! All around the house or your child’s room! Fill the house with things or activities they love doing and pull one of these out as soon as the child’s screen time is drawing to a close.

Books, arts and crafts, Legos, cards, board games, chess, indoor or outdoor activities, sporting equipment, dancing shoes, music, anything! Own it!

Show Some Zest

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Be excited about the things that your child loves. Show interest, ask questions, and provide ample positive feedback for their hobbies. The more they like off-screen hobbies, the less they are drawn to the screens.

Lead by Example

This sounds cliché, but children develop learned behaviors over time. They mimic adult behavior and use it as an ideal to base their habits on. So, moms and dads, show them how it’s done! Put your phones and laptops down, and engage actively with your family.

The Dump Basket

Put up a little basket away from the family room/dining table, where all family members dump their phones/tablets/TV remotes, etc. each evening, for at least an hour. As children experience the joys of family bonding and learn to cherish the silliness and giggles that ensue, they will find themselves thinking less and less about their screens. It’s all about serotonin, the happiness hormone! The more you enjoy something, the more you want it. Get it flowing!

Be Consistent

You’ve heard this before. As in all things parenting, consistency is key. Set some ground rules and let everyone voice their opinion to come down to reasonable screen-time limits. Be consistent with these rules; don’t be stingy one day and benevolent the next. If you repeat it often enough, kids eventually learn that there is no getting away from the law of the land. Up your game, girl!

Positive Reinforcement

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When your child follows ground rules related to screen time, provide positive feedback with more activities centered around them. Provide ample encouragement and support for your child’s activities and interests. Reward them with kind words of appreciation and big, warm hugs (that will be more valuable to their growth than gifts in cash or kind). Avoid taking away screen time as a punishment. It only makes them want it more.

In the increasingly virtual world around us, we find ourselves staring down at screens to get us through the day – be it for business, or pleasure! This is a reality of our times. Leading kids away from screens is definitely an uphill battle; it requires a parent to be sincerely invested in their child’s health and well-being. It may not be a cakewalk, but hey, it’s worth a shot!!

Let us know if you tried any of these little tricks and if they worked!

Have a great week ladies!

 


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