The fact that there have been over 200 million copies of Minecraft sold as of May 2020 paints the picture of how it can be tricky to set screen time boundaries with your children. Fortunately, it’s possible. Here, we’ll review a few ways to set healthy screen time limits with your kids.
Why Is it Important to Set Screen Time Boundaries?
Children today in Detroit and other states typically spend an average of seven hours a day using electronic media of some kind or other- TV, mobile phones, or computers and laptops. This is a lot when you consider that the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that the appropriate screen time for children is not more than two hours.
The main reasons you should do your best to minimize screen time are:
- While you may have parent controls on and monitor what they watch most of the time, they may still come across something that is either not appropriate for them, or that frightens them.
- Spending hours in front of the television takes away the need for a child to use their imagination. It’s important for kids to have healthy imaginations and active minds that help them solve problems, generate ideas, and entertain themselves without screens.
- Face-to-face interaction with friends and family imparts positive emotions and fosters closeness, while technology in general eliminates the need for most teenagers to meet up with friends.
- Screen time can easily become addictive if not limited.
- Children are at risk of meeting predators online if left to use the internet with no moderation.
How to Set Healthy Screen Times
Set a good example by practicing healthy screen time yourself. Don’t binge-watch series and movies daily then tell them they can’t do the same and expect great results; it works best if they see you find alternative ways to spend your time. Instead of scrolling through your social media feeds every spare second you have, pick up a healthy hobby, and you will both benefit.
Make sure you stay up to date on technology and social media trends. If you don’t understand the dangers yourself, you cannot effectively teach them about the risks or prevent them from consuming certain media.
Have technology-free zones in your home. Setting aside areas like the dining table or kitchen where electronics are not allowed can help you substitute the time that could be spent on a phone for time spent talking about the days’ activities. Another great screen-free zone is the bedrooms, where children can spend a lot of time unsupervised.
Set aside times for the whole family to unplug. Some time before bedtime is great for everyone to set aside their phones and wind down while doing other activities like writing or just talking to each other. More than 4.6 million U.S. households in the USA, including Detroit, were multigenerational in 2018, providing for a lot of activities that can be shared.
Make use of parental controls when appropriate. Before you place the ban on all “violent” or “mature” media, it’s important to have a discussion with your kids about the things they consume on television and in games. Studies have proven time and time again that violence in video games doesn’t cause violence in real life, but you might not want your 10-year-old watching an R-rated movie. Once your kids know their media boundaries, you can use applications and tools to protect your children from accessing explicit content on the internet or TV.
Encourage your children to take part in other activities. When your kids are interested in activities that don’t need a screen or the internet for fun, it makes it easier to put the screen down. Think of things like playing boardgames, outdoor sports, or even reading a book.
Explain to your kids why you’re limiting their screen time. Include all members of your family in a conversation to set boundaries and let the kids know that too much screen time has downsides. When they understand this, they are much more likely to comply than try to resist or think you’re just being mean.
Being a parent has a lot of ups and downs, and it may have become even harder of late. Knowing what to do when times change is important. If you try your best to make sure you’re on the same page with your kids, things may be a bit easier for you both.