Children are constantly exposed top screens in the modern world. Too much screen time can be damaging to a child’s social and mental development. As a parent, you have to find a balance that works for your child and for your family. Here are five simple rules to reduce your child’s screen time.
1 – No Cell Phones When the Family Is Together
Any time the family is together, the phones need to be put away. This includes your phone. Children follow your example, even when you don’t realize you’re setting one. Show your child that you can spend quality time as a family without any screens involved. Family dinners, car rides, movie nights – these are all moments when the phones should be put away.
2 – No Screens after a Certain Time
The specific time will depend on your child’s age and your overall family dynamic. Example: no video games after dinner, no phones after 8:00 PM and no TVs after 9:00 PM. The rules may vary from one child to the next. Set a schedule for screen time that fits your child’s age and maturity level. Then make sure you stick with that schedule until it becomes routine.
3 – No Screens at Other People’s Houses
If your child is visiting his grandparents, the screens need to stay at home. You may send your child’s phone with him or her, but only for emergency contacts. No tablets or video games – nothing that can detract from quality time as a family. This is a display of respect, and it shows your child that there are other ways to be entertained.
4 – Don’t Use a Device That’s on the Charger
When your child’s phone or tablet is charging, it shouldn’t be in use. This is a simple and effective way to limit screen time. If the child has been on the device enough to drain the battery, it’s time for a break. If he or she was not responsible enough to charge the device, this teaches a lesson in responsibility. Keep the chargers in one area of the house, and only allow your child to use the device after it’s fully charged.
5 – No Screens at Restaurants
This last rule may be challenging because some parents use screens to keep their children calm in public settings. However, doing this sends a message that whatever is going on at the table is less important than the screen. Do your best to find alternative ways to keep your child calm. Ask for a coloring page for your child or bring your own. Include your child in the conversations as much as possible. Bring a brain teaser toy for your child to solve. If you want to have an adult-only night, arrange for child care. These steps will ensure that your child is not reliant on a screen for entertainment.
If you’d like additional advice to limit your child’s screen time, contact Oakland Psychological Clinic. We will gladly set you up with a child counseling appointment.