Group of children exiting a school bus.

How to Transition Kids to School Year Screen Time Rules

by Screen Time Team on 07/08/2019

It’s almost time to head back to school, and for kids, that’s always going to be something of an adjustment. But one area you might see particular pushback is with tightening up the rules on screen time again. Here’s how to limit tears and arguments when it’s time to pick up books.

Review The Rules

Start by sitting the family down and going over what the rules were for the previous school year, and how they might change. This is also a good time to establish that they’ve stuck by the rules before, and the world didn’t end. If you have a rewards system as part of your rules, such as earning more screen time for chores, now would be a good time to address how that’ll work with school and homework in the mix.

Now is also the time to adjust the rules. As kids grow up, their needs will change; screen rules that made sense in elementary school may not work so well once they’re in middle school. Contact their school and ask how much computer time kids will likely need for homework and research in a given week, and factor that in when making decisions.

Ease Into It

Like any other change, easing into new rules helps. Start a few weeks before by instituting changes one at a time, making it clear as you go along which rule will be set up, and aiming to balance a range of activities, from screen time to going outside to reading. It’s best to start with something simple, such as lowering overall screen time over the weeks until you’re at a school-year level. The week before, institute any schedules you’ve planned, such as no screens between the start of school and the end, and you should be good to go.

Add In Activities

Screen time reduction is just one part of getting ready for school. As you reduce screen time, fill it in with the preliminary work that needs to be done for school. Even if kids have already read their books and filled out their worksheets, it’s still a good idea to sit down and go over their work.

Don’t forget that it’s never too late to deal with the “summer slide,” the loss of skills and techniques kids experience when they stop going to school. Finding fun, educational activities that get them back into the school mindset will help them excel once they’re back in class. And there’s nothing wrong with simply playing outside the way generations of kids have always done.

Child swinging on a swing.

Use Parental Control Apps And Settings

Even the best kids may sometimes be tempted, so back up your conversations and rules with both parents settings and parental control apps. Most devices and apps will have at least some form of setting parents can configure, but parental control apps will allow you to enforce schedules, block certain apps from being downloaded or deleted, and even “pause” access to the device if necessary.

Screen time will always be a point of contention between parents and kids, but striking the right balance, with the help of good rules and good tools, will help kids strike the needed balance between screens and the other fun and important things they need to do. To learn how it works, try it for free!

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