Having young children is an exercise in patience as well as a balancing act. You need to find a balance between being your child’s parent while also allowing them autonomy so they can learn and grow on their own. A common issue that seems to pop up with a lot of parents is the amount of time children spend looking at screens. With such readily available entertainment in the palm of their hand, it’s understandable that it would grab their attention. However, we’re going to give you a few ways to manage your child’s screen time so you can find that balance for them.
Be an Example
Children just love to emulate what their parents do—it’s a fact of life no matter what time period we consider. If your child sees you constantly looking at your phone, pulling it out every time there is downtime, they’re going to start to see that as normal. If you want your child to be more aware of their screen time, you need to be more aware of your own.
Set “No Device” Times
There are times when hard and fast limits are necessary. Setting aside a specific time for no one to look at their screens is a good idea, as long as you have a good reason for it. Dinner time is an excellent reason to put the family’s phone out of reach so you can enjoy each other’s company. Device use before bed can reduce sleep quality, so consider a hard limit on screen time before bedtime. Arbitrarily setting limits, however, won’t be as effective as you think it might be.
Don’t Use Screens as a Distraction
A crucial way to manage your child’s screen time is to make sure that you don’t use a screen as a way to distract or soothe a child. This is especially pertinent to young children, as this reinforces the idea that screen time will always make them feel better, leading to them rely on it as they grow older. Although it’s tough not to reach for your phone when your child starts crying in public, temper this instinct and find ways to soothe them without a screen in their face.
Protect Them During Unavoidable Screen Time
These days, some screen time is simply unavoidable. A lot of schools are still doing remote learning. Even when remote learning finishes, homework and tests can be online as well. The best you can do for these times is to take them away from a screen during downtime. You may also want to protect their eyes if they can’t completely get away from looking at a screen.