SHOP THE POST
As a mom in this digital age, I know that screens are going to be a part of my kids’ life. They are a huge part of my life! But I also know that there is so much of life to be experienced outside of an electronic device and I don’t want my kids missing out on that! Soren and I don’t allow or own any video gaming systems right now, so the kid’s screen time is really limited to iPads, computers and the TV. As busy parents and a busy family, it’s easy to lean too heavily on screens to entertain the kids (like right now as I write this post!) but we try to be conscious of it and do what we can to combat it.
I am by no means the expert, but I put some thought into what we do or what I want to do and created this list of tips for ways to be conscious about screen time and how to involve our kids in the process.
10 Screen Time Tips for Back to School Success
- Treat screen time like a privilege. Just because their apps are learning apps does not mean they can do “homework” all night. A learning app is definitely better than silly online quizzes, but their learning apps still look an awful lot like a video game, so we still put limits on them.
- Teach them to prioritize. There are so many things more important than screen time, and as soon as time on the iPad becomes their main focus, I know their priorities have gotten out of whack. I don’t have a set chore chart, but I do have a mental list that I go down if someone asks for screen time. Is their room clean? Is their clean laundry put away? Have they played outside, or do they have sports practice planned for that evening? Is dinner cleaned up? Usually they have 2-4 jobs to do before they get an okay for screen time.
- Set a timer. We always set a timer. Because their devices are from school there aren’t a lot of apps or restrictions I can create on them, but I really try to always have them set a physical timer. If they set it, they are conscious of the number. I know there are apps and settings you can use to control and monitor usage.
- Talk to them about why they want to play and what they plan to play. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten for keeping my phone usage down is to be intentional about why I open it up. Do I need to look something up? Do I want to send a message? Don’t do it aimlessly. With kids you can also help them be intentional and make a plan for what they want to do before they start.
- Model appropriate use. This is a toughie, but it’s important for me too. I try and need to keep my screen usage to appropriate times and set boundaries. Kids definitely see what we do and are the first to notice hypocrisy.
- Teach why screens are dangerous. Screen time can have so many dangers. Pornography, it’s addictive, it’s a lazy, easy use of time for your brain- and it’s also lazy for your body. I try to talk about all of those things with the kids. Explained the right way, it’s been pretty easy for my kids to agree that screen time should be monitored and limited.
- Brainstorm productive screen time. Another way to make screen time good is to teach them a skill or help them create something rather than consume. I am much happier to see Easton on the computer making a slide show or a report about something he is interested in. He has made one about the kind of dog he wants and created a report about the Greek Gods.
- Always play in my presence and no screens allowed in rooms. This is a must. I don’t want them feeling like they are sneaking screen time or tempted to change what they have told me they are doing on their screen. They also turn them in at night and must have them on the charger in the laundry room before bed.
- Plan other activities. I find for myself that when I’m bored I turn to my phone. I’m a big fan of kids being bored- it’s good for them- but having a sport or play date or designated reading time is a way to keep kids involved in the world and busy.
- Mom (and Dad) have the final say. I make sure the kids know their iPads are not their iPads- I still have the say.