As we roll towards 2020, the amount of time spent on mobile devices is staggering. Smart device usage needs reducing, or at least knowledgeable control of the situation. For this reason, more and more choose to use a limit screen time app for their devices and/or those of family members.
The time spent on phones or tablets is starting to exceed that of TV usage. Moreover, even when watching TV, a considerable amount of viewers check out their smartphones. This means that many people (both young and old) are using their smart devices for quite a few hours per day.
Many teens and tweens are using online media for as much as 8 hours a day. That’s quite literally a fulltime job, or at least it’s the same amount of hours, just without pay and often without productivity. The article by Positive Discipline really highlights the need of more time away from screens.
Transitioning to using your phone or tablet less can be a shock to the system, and so we have put together some useful tips to reduce screen time.
Tips for Limiting Screen time and Introducing Parental Control
Limiting screen time is a big move for any family, but it can introduce some really positive life changes. Here we look at the best ways for using parental control software in order to limit screen time with tweens and teens.
- It’s Not Only for Kids – Although parental control software is meant for parents to restrict children, it can also be an effective tool to reduce adult mobile device usage as well.
- Ban the Bedroom Time – Don’t worry, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. However, applying a family rule not to use phones, tablets, or even a TV in the bedroom can help dramatically.
- Lead by Example – Your child will likely mimic your behaviour. If you are constantly glued to your phone or TV, or both, then they may start to view this as being ‘normal acceptable behaviour’.
- Be Smart – Kids are growing up with electronics, and learn new things quickly. This means that parents need to be smarter, or find ways to out smart kids when it comes to parental control of device usage.
- Family Time – Just banning the use of phones and tablets isn’t enough. Most children nowadays don’t learn how to ‘entertain themselves’ offline and will need to learn these skills. Enjoying new activities, family time, and experiencing the outside world together can help to prevent boredom that will inevitably trigger tantrums and arguments.
- Use Parental Control Apps and Settings – Apps, like ScreenTime cover far more than simply allowing you to limit screen time, Parents can also use other kinds of device settings such as pin codes for TVs, or restricting access to streaming apps, etc.
- Set Timezones – Assign times when devices can be used and when they can’t. Some flexibility may be needed at times, but having set times helps to introduce a workable routine.
- Introduce Offline Hobbies – Sports, reading, or just about anything fun and not depending on a screen can help children forget that they can’t use devices. If things go well, they’ll even look forward to these activities more than playing on their mobile phones.
- Rewards/Penalties – By setting some rewards, and if needed some penalties, the off screen time can become a game and on screen time can also become more educational and/or productive.
While to some degree, children need to learn online and mobile device skills for their future, there also needs to be some balance between the real world and the online world. More time offline can lead to creative activities, skill development, exercise and more.
How to Introduce a Limit Screen Time App without Tantrums
If your children have grown up watching TV and playing on phones, tablets, and consoles, removing these from their life can be challenging at the start. However, when your children are still young, changing their routine will be easier and may accept the new normal quite quickly.
Either way, the key is to openly discuss the reasons behind these changes, along with some rewards for not being in front of a screen. This could be from treats, to paying for a course or hobby that they would like to get more involved in.
However, bribery won’t always work and sometimes a firm but fair stance is needed. A family meeting, some negotiation, and then holding the agreed terms (excluding when needed for education) will become a new norm for them within a fairly short period of time.
Whichever strategy you decide to take, the key is to get the children involved in the plan and if possible make it a positive thing. After all, they are getting the freedom of having their own phone/device, access to the internet, and likely some extra rewards for tasks.
For all of this, they just need to accept the agreed terms and adhere to a schedule. The time with family, friends, and getting some exercise is also far more fun and beneficial than just sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours every day.
So, although on first impression it can seem daunting, actually the end benefits make using a limit screen time app worthwhile and will certainly have a positive impact on family life in the long term. Just remember though, you should lead by example and reduce your daily screen time. If the kids see you are doing it too, they really don’t have as much of an argument against it.