Have A Schedule
Children should understand what screen time use is acceptable, and when it’s acceptable. For example, screen use might be ruled out in the mornings as everybody needs to focus on getting ready and out the door, and only certain uses may be allowed during the school day or during homework time. This serves both as a useful way to set ground rules about screen use in general, and get kids used to only having screens during certain times.
Set Family Rules
Unstructured time can be where the real arguments begin. After all, if kids have nothing else to do, they may prefer to play games or chat with their friends. The best approach to this is to set rules for the entire family about when and where screens can be used. For example, you might set a rule that family members put away screens while the sun is up, and only use them during free time after dinner and before bed.
Setting rules for everyone to follow is key because it allows you to model proper screen use. Everyone remembers a moment of an adult telling them to do as they say, not as they do, from their own childhood, and practicing what you preach goes a long way towards helping kids understand this isn’t just because you’re the boss. And when dealing with cheating the rules, parental control software can strictly enforce schedules.
Make It A Treat
Another approach is to avoid the “digital babysitter” approach where possible. No parent should berate themselves simply because they absolutely had to get something done and the only option at that particular moment was the television. The trick is to make it more of a treat. Older kids, for example, might earn time playing video games by working ahead on their homework, by doing small chores around the house, or getting it as a present for good behavior or a holiday. The more you emphasize it’s an occasional distraction they’ve earned, not a right they can enjoy whenever they feel like it, the easier these discussions will be.
Kids should also understand that “off” means “off.” If they don’t put the screen down right away, parental control apps like Screen Time have an “instant pause” feature that ensure they look up.
Set Up Non-Screen Fun
Another simple way to put screens away is to ensure there’s plenty of other things to do. This can be family fun, such as outings, family walks, or book clubs. But it can also be classes, a library to read through, and other things. Making sure they have options beyond playing a game or watching a show will teach them they don’t need to look at their phones all the time.
To learn more about Screen Time parental control software and how it can help, we invite you to try it for free.