Many parents use electronics to keep their children quiet when they need to get something done, but it’s important to recognise that too much screen time can have a negative effect. With many kids having access to devices like TV’s, tablets, and smartphones around the clock, it can be a good idea to set limits. In this modern world filled with screens, this isn’t always easy. Here’s our guide on how to limit your child’s screen time.
The case for limiting children’s screen time
Electronic devices are becoming part of children’s lives earlier than ever, but it's important to observe how often they use them. If they’re getting too much screen time, this could negatively impact their growth and development. As well as potentially affecting their mental health by causing heightened levels of anxiety and depression, it can also lead to physical problems such as insomnia, obesity, and even eating disorders. It can also affect eye development by causing near-sightedness. Recent studies have demonstrated that too much screen time for two-year-olds leads to poorer developmental outcomes by age three. It can be challenging to keep your youngest ones busy however we all know there's nothing they love more than toys that stimulate their senses. So try swapping the iPad for a squishy ball and watch them become entranced by the weird sensation! Sensory Toys play a key part in the development of a child and we believe they're a must-have for every household!
Set a good example
If you don’t want your child to develop bad habits when it comes to screen time, it’s important to set a good example. You need to demonstrate healthy electronics use if you want them to do the same. So, try not to keep the TV on all the time or binge watch that new boxset you’ve just bought. You should also try to avoid picking up your phone and scrolling through Facebook every few minutes. If your child watches you doing these things, they’re only likely to follow your example and pick up bad habits that are detrimental to their health and wellbeing. As a way to ensure that everyone gets involved, you could have an hour or so dedicated to family time together. With a wide range of Board Games & Puzzles, you will definitely find something that will keep the whole family busy and entertained AND it doesn't require leaving the house!
Create “tech-free zones” at home
One way you can limit your child’s screen time is to create zones where electronics like tablets and phones aren’t allowed. For example, you could ban devices at the dining room table, making it an area strictly reserved for eating and talking to each other. This may not go down well at first, especially if they have become used to scrolling through their phone during mealtimes. However, your child will soon accept and adapt to this new rule.
Use the latest tech to set limits
Ironically, there’s a good range of technology out there that can help you limit your child’s screen time. Apple and Google have integrated digital-wellness tools into their smartphone software, enabling parents to monitor their children’s usage. For iOS devices, the Screen Time feature provides a complete report on web activity and apps, and it’s also possible to set limits on how often certain apps can be used. For example, you could limit Netflix to an hour per day, preventing them from overusing it. The Down Time tool allows you to block the use of apps and calls during a set period, for example during the night.
Discuss the dangers of too much screen time
It’s important that your children don’t think you’re limiting their tech use just because you’re being mean. If they understand that watching too much TV or playing video games for hours on end isn’t healthy, they’re less likely to attempt to break the rules. Discuss with them how too much screen time can affect them both mentally and physically. You should also be sure to make them aware of online predators and what they should do if they feel at risk whilst using the internet.
Make tech use a privilege
One of the biggest problems when it comes to screen time is that many kids see it as a right rather than a privilege. You need to turn this around, taking away TV or computer use in response to bad behaviour. Also, once you’ve set a limit on screen time, don’t let them gain extra time as an incentive. You need to stick to the daily limit whilst offering other rewards for good behaviour. Children often start to rely on tech for entertainment, but it’s up to you to show them that there are other ways to have fun. Introduce them to other activities that don’t depend on screens. For example, you could encourage them to read books or play outside more. With over a hundred of Outdoor Toys to choose from, it might be harder to get them back in the house!
Technology like TV, tablets, and smartphones may keep your children quiet, but too much screen-time can have a negative impact on their mental and physical health. Fortunately, there are ways you can limit their tech use, making sure that it enhances their lives rather than dominates them. Electronic devices are a big part of children’s lives, but it's important to monitor how often they use them.
Let us know in the comments below how you feel about children and technology and what your biggest concerns are when it comes to it...