Figure Out Screen Needs
One of the big stumbling blocks is that increasingly, we need technology to get around in the world. Teens need to be able to take calls for school or work, preteens may use messaging apps to stay in touch with friends, and even younger kids need to use computers to do homework and engage with some assignments. And then there are situations where, for example, everyone just wants to sit down with a book, and the nearest one is an e-reader. Work out which screens are needed when, and use that to drive other decisions.
Give Rules Teeth
Rules should have both methods of keeping them in place and consequences for violating them. Parental control apps should be used to block certain apps, for example, or to uninstall apps that are causing problems. And if somebody breaks the rules, there should be fair but clear punishments. For example, if you catch somebody under the covers with their phone, there should be an understanding that the phone will stay with you for a set period of time.
Lead By Example
Families teach each other, and often children will model their behavior on that of their parents. This gives parents a valuable tool; balance your use of screens and they’ll follow your lead. This also applies to the different uses of screens; if they see you reading books on an e-reader instead of playing games, they’re more likely to read books.
Set A Schedule
A schedule, enforced by parental control apps, can show kids the value of keeping screen time to a healthy minimum. This is especially effective if the entire family sits down and works out a schedule together, with certain times, like dinner, as screen-free. As everyone gets used to the schedule, and plans out how they’ll use their screen time for the day, the balance will come naturally.
No parent is perfect when it comes to entertaining kids, and there are definitely going to be days where you need your family to focus on something else. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck calling on the “digital babysitter.” Make regular trips to the library so there’s always a new book to read in the house, have crafting projects ready to go, or have them help you with the task you’re focusing on in some way. Flipping on the TV is a viable strategy, just not the only one.
Create Screen-Free Zones
There are places screens simply don’t need to be. Televisions should be limited to public spaces, and phones should be charged outside the bedroom. This also applies to screen accessories like game consoles, which should only be connected to screens that you can control.
Parenting is always going to be a balancing act, both for you and your family. Parental control apps can help you keep that balance without losing track of anything else. To learn how, try it for free!