Screen-based devices have become a central part of our lives. However, it’s good for parents to teach kids how to best manage their relationship with technology to learn, play and entertain.
There are different guidelines on physical activity, sleep and screen time for children. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children aged three and four should have around an hour of screen time a day.
However, this varies. For example, there is a big difference between children having random screen time versus using technology to help them learn. Andrey Kondratyuk, father of three and Co-Founder of IntellectoKids discusses how parents can set a good example and clear boundaries on-screen time which is necessary for mental development and creating healthy family dynamics.
1 – Agree on a clear set of rules
Talk to your child about when it is appropriate to use their devices and come to an agreement. Enforce this from an early age. To help keep them in check establish limits that apply to the whole family – especially as children tend to follow by example.
Some suggestions might be not using devices at the dining table, during homework or a certain amount of hours a day.
2 – Make screen time worth it
Treat screen time as a reward, not a right and make kids work for it. For example, if they completely finish their meal, go outside to play or read a book for an hour – they are then allowed to use their digital device.
Additionally, try encouraging your child to focus on active screen time rather than passive. Active screen time is when the child is engaged in physical or cognitive activity. It’s the difference between kids playing an app such as IntellectoKids Learning Games which can entertain and educate children on memory, arts and logic; versus binge-watching TV shows or watching silly things on YouTube – which can ultimately contribute to issues such as insomnia and screen addiction.
Therefore, hard limits on all types of media aren’t as beneficial as some parents might believe.
3 – Build trust
Forbidding your child from using phones or other digital devices all together might result in them in using it secretly. Don’t use extreme measures. Instead, talk to your child when they are on the internet or using a device and show interest in what they are doing.
Over time, this will build trust and independence as you’ll be aware of their digital activities and interests without literally watching their every move.
4 – Engage in other activities
It’s really just as simple as that. Replace screen time with playtime, and plan other activities to keep your child occupied and reduce his or her exposure to screens. Look into board games such as Ludo or Chess. If the sun is out, get outdoors and play badminton.
This can also apply to other activities such as dancing and crafts. For example, if your child is keen on painting, buy a canvas, a palette and encourage them to spread their imagination and create some beautiful artwork.
5 – Embrace assistance
If you’re a digital-savvy parent, consider downloading an app that allows you to monitor your child’s phone activity and screen time. For example, Zift is free and allows parents to look into their child’s online searches and any apps they newly install.
It also shares tips on social media phrases parents should know through their community. Alternatively, there are several workshops in the UK which discuss parenting in the digital age that can be found via Eventbrite.
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