How To Set Screen Rules That Stick

22 Mar

Parenting in the digital age is undoubtedly difficult. Where children are addicted to screens, and stay glued to the couch while watching TV or playing video games. This is where screen time rules come into play. Although some screen time can be educational, excessive screen time can be detrimental to a child's development and overall well-being. It deprives them of time and opportunities to engage in other activities and socialize with others. It can even disrupt their sleep, cause behavioral issues, and lead to obesity. 

Technology and entertainment media are everywhere, and limiting screen time can be difficult, especially if your children are accustomed to having more than you wish to allow. Hence it is critical that parents set healthy boundaries for their children. 

Here are some additional pointers for making new screen rules stick:

1. Model healthy electronic use

Before you binge-watch your favorite Netflix series, keep in mind that your own screen time sets a bad example for your children. Always turn off your TV after watching your favorite show. Leaving the TV on for background noise or scrolling through your phone whenever you have a spare moment may not be modeling the screen-related behavior you want to see in your children. Therefore when it comes to screen time you must set a good example for their children. In short, setting a good example starts with you!

2. Explain the drawbacks of excessive screen time

Power comes from knowledge. A better strategy would be to explain why the rules are being implemented. And by explaining the negative effects of screen time, whether it is the physical effects of strained eyes, headaches, and poor posture, or the academic disadvantages of prioritizing screen time over homework time, you will help them better understand your position.

3. Redirect screen time for learning purposes

The internet and technology are not always bad things. In fact, when used correctly, they can be beneficial. Look for kid-friendly apps and websites with educational content. Online games and activities that promote creativity, imagination, and literacy are also available. So find ways to turn screen time into learning time.

4. Consistency is essential

Once you've established your ground rules, it's critical that you stick to them and maintain consistency. By creating the rules together, everyone will be aware of the expectations and will be able to meet them. That being said, you must play your part and enforce the rules that you have worked so hard to establish and maintain your consistency.

5. Offer active alternatives  

Encourage physical activity by providing more opportunities for outdoor play. Take them to a park where they can run around and interact with other children. Make time for hands-on learning and interacting with caregivers and friends. Also, make sure your child gets enough sleep and is physically active every day.

6. Establish screen-free zones

Screens should not be used in any room of the house. Create some technology-free zones in your home. For example, the television should be located solely in the living room. Children should not have a television in their bedrooms, nor should they have one in their dining room. Allow them only in the living room and must share screen time with other family members so that you can keep track of what they're doing and how long they're doing it.

By keeping the devices out of certain areas of the house or having screen time together with your child, you give your child more opportunities for important interactions with the family as well as other beneficial learning activities. 

7. Make them earn it

Make it a requirement for children to earn screen time by doing their homework, chores, music or sports practice, playing outside, and so on. There are numerous ways to accomplish this. Alternatively, have them keep track of how much time they spend on chores and allow the same amount of screen time. Or simply make it a rule that homework always comes first, and any time left over can be spent watching TV (but set a time limit!).

Of course, one of the most difficult challenges for today's parents is limiting their children's screen time. But with these screen time rules, you can set healthy boundaries so that your children can enjoy their electronic devices without negatively impacting their development.

Download the Kindersteps app that empowers new parents and helps you make better decisions for your child's day-to-day life with enriching activities that support their development.

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