Digital literacy is a skill that every child should have. It empowers them to perform and stay safe in an increasingly digital world. However, just like everything else in life, moderation is key, and parents have to be diligent in monitoring their children’s digital use.
It starts with their screen time. It’s best if parents can instill discipline among their children when it comes to the time they spend in front of their devices. Here are a few strategies to maintain a healthy screen time in your household.
Learn the Right Amount of Screen Time
To create healthy boundaries, allow for an acceptable amount of device use, based on the age of your children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- One hour per day for children 2 to 12 years old
- Two hours per day for teens
Ideally, children under 2 years old shouldn’t have screen time.
Take note too, that not all screen time is equal. Kids who go to school might need to use their laptops or computers to accomplish schoolwork or even learn about new hobbies. After all, there are countless free videos that teach kids how to paint, play an instrument, sew, and more.
A parent may allow, for instance, two hours of screen time for leisure — scrolling social media, watching random videos, or more.
There are many apps that parents can use to control the screen time of young children. You may explore these:
- Apart from helping you monitor screen time, Zift also enables parents to protect their children from inappropriate content. It can send alerts about online searches, newly installed apps, and even alarming phrases used in the child’s social media spheres.
- Screen Time. Using this app, parents can preset blocked hours, like school hours, homework time, and bedtime. Parents can also activate the Free Play mode to temporarily override these settings.
- Through unGlue, parents can set boundaries on the use of apps related to entertainment, like games, social media apps, and more.
Create Phone-Free Zones
Assign phone-free zones in your home — periods or places where the kids are not allowed to tune into their devices.
A good example of a phone-free period is meal time. It has become a norm for children and teens to use their phones while eating. It’s a habit that needs to be broken. Not only does it extend screen time, but it also:
- Disrupts time with family. Meals are a chance to spend time with the family, but phones sidetrack their attention.
- Lead to under- or overeating. Because their attention is not on their food, children are not mindful of what they eat. They might not even chew their food properly.
Having no phones on the table is a good and healthy rule for young kids.
A parent may also impose a no-phone rule in certain rooms in the home.
- It’s best if children don’t use bring phones or devices with them in the bathroom.
- Reading Nooks. Reading nooks, after all, are made for reading. Set up an air purifier, throw a couple of soft rugs, and encourage children to read.
Initiate Non-Digital Activities
One of the best ways to encourage less screen time is to create fun activities that don’t require devices. Here are fun activities you can schedule:
Nothing beats a healthy dose of sunshine. Teach your children your favorite sports and set aside a reward afterward (maybe their favorite dinner). Sports not only strengthen the body, but it also fortifies the mind. If they’re not fond of sports, you could take them swimming.
Arts and Crafts Projects
Children love to build. Nurture their innate creativity with arts and crafts projects. You can challenge them to build paper lanterns, holiday cards, paintings you can place on the fridge, and more. Just stock up on craft supplies!
Cook and Bake
Cooking and baking is a wonderful way to bond with your child. While they can’t do the difficult tasks, they can help out with the utensils, adding small ingredients, decorating the dessert, or plating the dish.
Be a Role Model
The most effective way to make children mindful of their screen time is to control your own. Children learn by example. If they see adults flouting screen time rules, they won’t follow them, too. Make sure that:
- All phone-free zones and periods apply to the adults in the house, too
- The adults join the phone-free activities, like sports or cooking
- Don’t spend much of your free time on the screen
- Find unplugged hobbies that you can do with your children.
Screen time discipline is an essential foundation for your child’s digital skills. This is something that will stay with them until adulthood.