Screen Time for Kids: Setting Healthy Limits for the Family

Screen Time for Kids: Setting Healthy Limits for the Family

Has technology become a problem in your family? Are you looking to set healthy boundaries for TV, tablets, video games, etc.? In the first part of this guide, we discussed age-appropriate screen times for kids. Now we are going to focus on how you can maintain those time limits in your day to day lives.

Set a Specific Time Limit for Each Child

If you have more than one child, you will need to set different screen time limits for each child. Your teenager may be able to handle longer screen times than your preteen. Your 2-year-old may only have screen time with the family, while your six-year old could have an hour of personal time with the TV each day. You will need to define these time limits based on your children’s ages, maturity levels, and lifestyles.

Monitor Screen Time (Don’t Just Guess at It)

If you say “30 minutes of TV,” stick to that. Monitor how long your child is watching TV, and enforce the time limit as needed. To make this easier, you may say “One episode of {name of show},” which you know lasts roughly 30 minutes. The goal here is to be actively aware of your child’s screen exposure so your limits have merit.

Limit Your Own Screen Time

Your children will learn from your example. You’re an adult, which means you obviously deserve as much screen exposure as you like. Nevertheless, if you are constantly on your phone or watching TV, your child is going to see that. Think about how often you are in front of a screen, and try to find other ways to occupy your time. Something as simple as reading a book at night will show your children that there are many ways to spend their free time.

Prioritize Responsibilities over Privileges

Responsibilities come first. Screen time comes later. Make this a consistent rule in your house. For example, when your children come home from school, they may be allowed to eat a light snack. After that though, they should do their homework and complete any chores they need to do that day. Once the chores and homework are finished, then they can enjoy a show on TV or play on their favorite app. This work-then-reward mentality will set them up for a successful adulthood.

Find Alternative Forms of Entertainment

Children have a ton of energy, and they need an opportunity to release some of that energy. Spending time in front of a screen will not allow them to do that. Encourage your children to play outside, use puzzle-solving toys, jump rope, play with other children, and do activities that will use up energy. Then when they settle down, you can have them play with less interactive toys or read a book. The more options they have to have fun, the less they’ll be thinking about screen time.

Encourage Breaks in Screen Time

If your child is allowed several hours of screen time, suggest breaks in between. This will give their eyes, minds and bodies a chance to regroup. Think of how much your neck or head hurts after working for hours on the computer. Your child may go through the same experiences if they’re staring at a TV screen for prolonged periods of time. Take a break, eat a snack, talk with the family, and then get back to technology later on.

Use Technology as a Family

You can teach your children the right way to use technology by making it a family experience. Instead of watching a TV show while your children play video games, have a family movie night. You could even have a family video game night if you wanted to! Show your kids how to use and not abuse their screen time, and you will have a positive experience all the way around.