Tired of the endless YouTube clips, the Fortnite talk or the screen time battle? Kids are becoming more obsessed with screens by the day and it’s proving to be a tricky situation for parents. Here’s 6 ways to deal with (and try to curb) your kid’s screen obsession.
Kids and technology – the great battlefield of parenting. We get it, screen time can be LOADS of fun for kids but what happens when it’s NOT fun for parents?
If your kids start kicking up a fuss when you say “no” to screen time or you try to tear them away from it, you need these tips below!
6 ways to stop kids’ screen time completely ruling your home
1. Wean ’em off
Tempting as it is to lock up the iPad in a cupboard never to see the light of day again, going cold turkey on screen time isn’t the easiest of answers in dealing with your kid’s screen obsession. Instead, take the gradual wean approach. Slowly reduce their time spent on it back towards the recommended screen time, rather than eliminating it altogether – especially in the early days.
2. Set boundaries for screen time
If screen time is a free-for-all, come and go as you please activity, you can bet your bottom dollar, many kids will be firmly fixed in front of a screen for as long as possible. Do yourself and your kid a favour and set some FIRM boundaries.
Set a daily screen time limit (see the recommended screen times below) and have rules put in place. Rules can include no screens when we have visitors, no screens at the table, no screen time an hour before bed etc. But you have to make ’em and stick to ’em!
3. Make screen time a reward
In the words of TV’s Dr. Phil, “you have to find your kid’s currency“, and boy, for many kids it’s screen time. Screen time becomes less of a priority for kids if they have to earn the privilege. Set reasonable conditions like you have to do your homework, put your washing away or clean up your toys properly before you can play on the iPad. And if they DO earn it by doing their jobs, then great, everyone wins!
4. Replace time-sucking games with educational apps
A sneaky way to decrease your child’s interest in screens is to switch out the content. Does your lad love to spend hours playing Fortnite or Minecraft? Think he’d love spending hours learning his timetables instead? Probably not.
5. Lead by example
Yep, this ol’ chestnut. Lead by example and they will follow… If your kids see you with your head bent over your phone all the time, scrolling with the finger pointed, they’re going to think it’s perfectly normal to do the same AND you won’t have a leg to stand on when you tell them excessive screen time isn’t good for them.
6. Distract your child with other activities
Let’s be frank – screens make a wonderful babysitter and they’re just SO EASY to use to keep the kids (and parents) happy. But it’s time to step up into active parent entertainment mode. Screens are the default activity for many kids (mine included) and I’m vowing to carve out the time and offer much more interesting activities to lure my boy away from the screen. A visit to the skate park anyone?
How much screen time should my kids have?
According to Children’s Health Queensland, the following screen times guidelines should be considered:
Recommended screen time for babies aged under two years:
Babies and young toddlers should steer completely clear of screens and screen time – they have zero interest and it’s a great way to be! That’s no phone screens, no iPad screen, no tv – nada, zilch!
Recommended screen time for toddlers and preschoolers aged two to five years:
Tots and preschoolers should stick to one hour or less of screen time a day. Pick your time carefully!
Recommended screen time for kids aged five to 12 years:
Prepare for battle, kids aged five through to twelve should have no more than two hours of screen time a day.
Recommended screen time for teenagers aged 13 to 17 years:
Even teens should spend no more than two hours a day planted in front of a screen.
Note: Screen time includes phone screens, computers, laptops AND television.
Think you’re going to have a battle on your hands with the younger members of your family? Try this sneaky little trick to get your teenager off the iPad!