We’ve been hearing for years that parents need to be careful of how much time they allow their kids to play on or watch screens. Just recently, a study revealed that children really shouldn’t spend more than an hour watching a screen per day. That was concerning for a lot of parents. An even bigger concern is what your kid is spending that hour (or a tiny bit more) of screen time doing. Education strategist, Dwayne Matthews has five tips he gives parents (and enforces in his own home) for making the most of kids’ screen time.
1. Own the Screen
Take this one literally and figuratively. It’s much easier to control the screen if it belongs to you and your child understands that. It’s your device so you make the rules. That being said, stick to those rules. If you’ve set out how the device is to be used, make sure you are monitoring their time on it and enforcing the rules you set out.
2. View it as a tool
Any electronic device at it’s very root is a tool. When you’re making your screen rules consider what job you want this tool to accomplish. Then, make sure your child understands that the device is to be used for that job or set of jobs only. The rules surrounding the device should reflect this ultimate goal.
3. Use it as an outsource
As a parent, it’s inevitable that your child will come across subjects in school that you just can’t help them with. This is when you can outsource that learning to an app that might be more helpful than you trying to recall how long division works. Apps like Khan Academy can help kids of any age supplement their at-school learning. You might want to tag along though so you can help if need be.
4. Create a schedule
It’s your device, so you decide when it gets played with. It’s beneficial to set up a schedule that your children can understand so they know when acceptable screen hours are. You can even break down the schedule further into ‘work screen time’ and ‘play screen time’ so they understand your expectations for both.
5. Don’t let it intrude on your bonding time
This isn’t to say ‘don’t play with your device together.’ Just don’t let screens intrude on time that should be just for family. During bonding times like meals, cooking dinner or bedtime, put all the devices aside entirely. Show your kids by example that there are some moments in life that should be screen-free. You know, like the 23 hours a day they aren’t supposed to be looking at one.