5 Parenting Tips for Limiting Screen Time When Kids Need Screens for School
In today’s screen-filled schools, setting screen limits for kids isn’t easy. By the time they finish their school day, most kids would have already spent a lot of time in front of computers, tablets, TVs, and smartphones to get assignments, do their homework, and research school projects. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents set consistent limits on media use for kids of 3 to 12 years old to no more than one hour a day. It is important to discuss with your child the difference between media use for entertainment and school. Time spent on homework and educational activities should be restricted differently from playing video games, watching TV, or browsing social media. Agree on the limits together – it is a good idea to write down a list of websites and apps that fall under the “entertainment” category and the “education” category. 1. Consider using an app to limit screen time Apps provide a simple and efficient way to implement parental controls. Here are a few of the best apps for parents to limit screen time: Zift In addition to helping parents monitor their child’s screen time, this app also provides instant reporting of online searches, updates on newly installed apps, and alerts if your child views inappropriate content. The app’s award-winning Net Nanny Smart Filter technology can scan specific web pages to determine if the content is safe for your child. Screen Time Screen Time is easily customized — you can reward your child by giving them more screen time after they do their homework or complete chores. Parents can also block screen-free periods like bedtime, homework time, or school hours. unGlue This app aims to develop better habits in kids by teaching them healthy screen time etiquette. Parents can set boundaries on entertainment by putting a time limit on entertainment apps, sites, and games so your kids can browse the internet without getting distracted. Kids are also encouraged to manage their habits by tracking their own screen time. Qustodio This app shows you everything you need to know about your kid's screen time on its online dashboard. Features include Smart Web Filters that block inappropriate content, game limitations, and a device time schedule, so your kids are unplugged during pre-set times. Parents will also get Smart Activity Reports to see their child’s activity. Norton Family This app from Norton enables parents to supervise their kids’ activities. Parents can know who their kids are in contact with, what social media image they are posting online, and how long they are gaming for. Norton Family also has personal information protection for Windows devices, so your child doesn’t reveal sensitive information. 2. Explain why you are limiting screen time Remember that parental control apps are technological tools to help your child learn healthy media habits. Have frequent discussions with your child about why you are using a screen limiting app, the dangers of too much screen time, and how they will benefit from the limits. Based on what's appropriate for your child's age, talk about why too many violent video games, social media, and TV can be harmful. You can frame these limits positively as a challenge to spend more time outside, playing in nature, and connecting with their friends – in person! Many parents know that children can be very crafty in finding their way around these limits. Older children and teens will be more accepting when they understand the purpose and benefits of less screen time. Make sure that every member of your family is included in these discussions, so everybody works together to set and follow the boundaries. 3. Model responsible screen usage As parents, you will know that children are impressionable and readily adopt the values, behaviors, and actions that they see in their parents. When it comes to screen usage, parents need to act as a role model. Set a good example for your kids by being very intentional with the way you use screens. This means thinking twice before you mindlessly scroll on your phone or binge-watch on your favorite Netflix series after a long day. Set a good example by unwinding without a screen! Instead, you can tuck in with a good book or listen to relaxing music. 4. Keep devices in a common area Rather than keeping your child’s computer, tablets, and TV in their bedroom, put their devices in a common area. This way, you can watch what is going on and teach your child about safe internet and social media use. 5. Make your child’s bedroom a screen-free zone Make it a rule that TVs, video gaming consoles, and computers are not allowed in your child's bedroom. This also includes phones and tablets that your child might be tempted to use late at night, which could impact their sleep. With the Jooki music player, your child can listen to a library of music and stories from Spotify associated with tokens and figurines – all without a screen! This way, your child can stay entertained and inspired in their bedroom while keeping the space screen-free. 6. Turn off devices when not in use While it is tempting to keep the TV on as background noise while cooking, cleaning, or eating, make your whole home a screen-free zone by leaving the TV off. This is especially true for children who have ADHD or are easily distracted. It is good practice to turn off or mute your phone when you’re not using it or during family mealtimes. With these tips, you will help your children develop healthy media habits both at school and at home.