Parents of young kids often wonder how to regulate the screen time of their kids. It’s no longer a matter of whether kids should have access to tablets or smartphones. It’s now a matter of regulating that access.
Kids as early as one are now watching videos so their parents can do their chores or work at home.
Here are some tips for parents on kids’ smartphone use.
Later is better.
Young kids do not really need a lot of screen time. In fact, they don’t even need a tablet or a smartphone. What they need is lots of love, sleep, and physical activity. Even Bill Gates did not give his kids smartphones until they were teenagers, 14 years old to be exact.
Set a limit for screen time.
You can let kids watch on TV, tablet, or smartphones for a limited period. You can even use it as a reward for doing something good–for accomplishing some chores inside the home, for reading a chapter of a book, or as part of a kid’s daily routine.
This would work even better if you coincide this with your own schedule. Right after a young child takes a bath, you can let them watch for 30 minutes or so while you cook lunch.
If you set rules on screen time, then you need to be firm about it. Kids will challenge your authority next time you impose a limit if you don’t stick to those limits in the first place.
Supervise their use of these gadgets.
Before supervising their use of these technologies, set some rules for using gadgets at home. You can set these rules at the outset. But if you have older children, you may want to include them in setting rules. When they are involved in setting the rules, they may be more amenable to following and implementing those rules.
Install parental controls for their sake and your wallet’s sake. If you are giving them access to a tablet or a smartphone, it would be wise to install parental controls so they don’t accidentally purchase anything in an app. This dad was totally surprised when one day his child bought a £9,000 car on eBay.
No gadgets on the table.
This rule is great! To make it even better, ask your kids to serve as a gadget police. Meal times are good for conversation and bonding times for the family. Better keep all gadgets away from the dining table.
Take the gadgets away if it becomes a source of conflict/anxiety.
When our son was about 3 and a half, we got concerned that he was spending a lot of time with his 8-inch tablet. So we decided to take it away and hide it. We just told him one day that we cannot find it. He fussed and looked for it for over a week. But after that, he just went on with life as normal.
Don’t think that he got ZERO ACCESS to screens now. That’s just impossible. But his screen time now is on our TV, where he watches YouTube videos (children’s songs and rhymes, animated shows, and toy videos on YouTube).
Don’t be afraid to take away the gadget when you believe that it will be better for your child.
Model the behavior you want from your kid.
Lastly and most importantly, you should model the behavior you want from your kid. If they see you with your phone or tablet all the time, then they will easily pick up that habit no matter what you tell them.
Work on the habits you want your child to develop and practice these habits, too. If you’ve been addicted to social media and to these technologies, it’s not too late to make changes.