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Helping Kids Balance Screen Time and Learning

By Myros Allegre | 10/04/2017

Screen time woes

“Screen time,” or the amount of time a child spends online or in front of an electronic device, is a topic that causes issues for most parents. Screen time usually causes worry, guilt, arguments, rules, and limits within many households.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to get around being the “bad guy” parent without giving in completely to your child’s desire for digital entertainment. The tips below include ways of letting your child enjoy their screen time, while avoiding the pitfalls of excessive use.

A Time Limit Alternative

Instead of setting a time limit for your child, try making sure that their screen time supplements other activities. Ensuring that your child participates in a productive, creative, or active activity for at least half an hour each day is a positive way to approach this problem.

Treat It Like a Library Book

Instead of setting a time your child can use their device, try treating it like a library book. For example, have your son or daughter “check out” their device once their homework or chores are finished. This way, you will be able to set the balance between work and play.

In addition, try setting a “due date” for their device. For example, if your child checks out the device at 3 p.m., have him or her return it by 7 p.m. If it’s not returned, then charge your child in whatever manner you see fit, whether that means washing the dishes or deducting minutes off their next “rental.”

Show Them You’re Following “The Rules” Too

Whenever you sit down to dinner as a family, turn your phone off. Use this time to show your child that family time is a priority, and screen time can wait. If your child can see that you, an important role model in their life, can put their phone down, then they will be more likely to do the same.

Ensure It’s Quality Screen Time

Not all apps and online games are created equal. Consider the following to ensure the time your kid spends online is quality screen time:

  1. Preview games, programs, and apps before allowing your child to play or view them.
  2. Ask your child what programs, games, and apps are their favorite.
  3. Take advantage of innovative digital parenting solutions and filters.
  4. Keep your child nearby during screen time so you’ll be able to supervise his or her activities.
  5. Try playing a game or exploring a new app with your child. This way you’ll not only be enjoying screen time together, but monitoring what exactly it is that your child is doing.
  6. Try discussing the program/app with your child after they watch or play it. This way you’ll know what information they’re retaining and what subjects they need help with.

Managing the time your kid spends online can be difficult as the appeal of excessive screen time overshadows their other activities. However, using a few of the tips above will ensure that they have a safe and fun experience, and balances digital time with offline experiences.