Kids and technology go hand-in-hand in today’s world, but sometimes parents wish they had a little more control over how much time their children spend in front of a screen. Most kids thrive on routine and structure in their lives. When they’re at school, for instance, they follow the rules without complaining, whining or bargaining. With a little practice, parents can instill the same type of structure at home.
Parenting styles vary widely, but there are three basic categories that most parents fall into: those who lay down the law and enforce it at all costs, those who offer their children choices and allow consequences to occur naturally and those who let their kids do whatever they want. Take a look at your parenting style and see which one of the three ideas below might work for you.
1. Set Firm Limits
Aside from using the Internet or an app to complete homework, limit screen time (television, Internet surfing, video games and social media) to one or two hours per day, whichever works best for your family. Enforce the limit by changing the Wi-Fi password each day, and only provide access to it after homework and chores are complete. When the set time is up, simply change the password again.
2. Set Cause and Effect Rules
Adults are familiar with consequences, and it is a parent’s role to teach the concept to their children. If the child is looking forward to an event, whether as simple as dessert after dinner or as exciting as a friend’s birthday party on the weekend, use that event as a reward for not spending too much time in front of a screen. Give the child a block of time with technology, and then suggest that they do something else, such as play outside or read a book. If the whining starts, take away the reward. The trick is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Kids can tell when you mean it and when you’re bluffing.
3. Set up Fun Alternatives
You don’t want to let your children do whatever they want all the time, but if their options outside of screen time are fun, healthy, constructive ones, they can be allowed to choose freely. Arts and crafts, books and puzzles and bikes and balls are all excellent alternatives to technology.
Limiting your kids’ screen time is important for many reasons. If you feel like technology is interfering with family time or with healthy growth and development, it is wise to put restrictions in place. By using one of the three ideas above, parents and children can all be happy.