If there’s anyone more fascinated by a screen than us, it’s our children. It’s not just about the bright colors and exciting sounds now either, as smartphones can provide endless entertainment and even educational apps for young children nowadays – meaning it’s getting more and more hard for us to say no.
It’s all too easy to hand them over the iPad for an hour or two to keep them occupied, but we all know enough about how this comes with a variety of psychological risks – so instead, we want to advise you on some tips and tricks in making sure your kids’ use of technology isn’t becoming excessively unhealthy.
Set the house rules, and stick to them
Remember, you are the boss. As we said, iPads can be hugely beneficial, but buying them their own personal tablet can be a step too far in the wrong direction. Screen time should be a privilege, and never something that they have a right to. Set a bunch of house rules that they have to stick to, and make sure they understand that there are no ifs or buts.
Educate them on the dangers
Of course it’s not as easy as saying no – you’ll likely face the brunt of a temper tantrum where they demand to know why they cannot be on their iPad all day. So this should be the part when you sit them down calmly and explain in detail why their excessive use of technology can be damaging. The more they personally understand, the more likely they’ll be willing to cooperate with your rules.
Schedule a tech timetable
These house rules may include specific times that they can and cannot use technology. For example, bedtime is a valuable time of day for them to be away from a screen, and so are the morning hours when they’re getting ready for school. Instead, you should use smartphones or tablets as a treat. You must be consistent with your rules if you want them to respect and obey them.
Set up tech-free zones
As well as setting up specific times, you can also set up specific tech-free zones. For example, you may set a no-tech rule at the dinner table, but allow them to fight their boredom on a car journey. Their bedrooms should always have some sort of restriction, too. These limitations will enable them to know and understand when and where they may get the opportunity.
Dinner time is family time
Dinner time is the perfect opportunity for them to turn off the screens. This should be the number one rule. Kids need their personal space just like us adults do – but family time is important, giving you time to reconnect with each other away from the distractions of your smart devices. Remember – we adults can just as easily become addicted too…
Pay attention to your own habits
That leads us to our last pointer – set a good example! If your children notice you using your phone or tablet frequently, then chances are they’ll pick up on it and find it to be unfair. Rightfully so, too. Pick and choose your own hours of tech use fairly – be a good role model by adopting healthier habits yourself.
Setting rules and restrictions may be hard at first, but over time, you’ll soon notice the changes in not just your child’s habits and behaviors, but in your own too. Be fair, but also be strict when necessary, and always put your child’s health first – no matter how tempting it can be to give in.