Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggest kids over the age of two should get no more than 1-2 hours of media time per day? Media devices are considered TV, computers, phones, tablets and MP3 players. Do your kids fall in these guidelines? Most children and teenagers exceed that limit especially in the summer months. What a lot of parent’s don’t realize is there are negative impacts to the child’s health and mental wellness that can occur from too much time in front of their devices.
Some of the negative effects of over excessive screen time can be attention issues, obesity and sleep disorders. Obesity in America is an epidemic. One of the big culprits of obesity is kids are watching TV, playing video games or playing on an iPad instead of getting outside and getting exercise. Families are busy and often parents will use these devices as a tool to keep kids busy while they can get things done. Creating good habits should be the goal of every parent, especially when it comes to media time. If you feel like your child may be getting too much screen time, you can use these 5 ways to get them to “unplug”.
1. Set a Timer
Setting a timer is an easy way to limit screen time. You can either set a timer on your phone or a physical timer. When the timer goes off, the screen goes off.
2. Schedule Media Time in Their Day
Write in media time in the daily schedule. In the evening, after homework and some exercise time outside is a great time to schedule their screen time. Just make sure that your child doesn’t use their devices an hour before bedtime or it can affect their sleep.
3. Use Software on the Computer to Monitor the Amount of Time They are Spending Online
There are many remote monitoring software’s available. In addition to monitoring the sites your children visit, it can also keep track of the amount of time they spend online. Older children should be taught the responsibility of self-monitoring. You can see if they are sticking to their limit by checking in with the software.
4. Use an App That Shuts Down the Phone
You can use a mobile app to lock the device after a specific period of time. This is a great option if your child uses a cell phone.
5. You Control the Device
Instead of letting the device in your child’s room where they could sneak in extra screen time at night or when they should be doing their homework; keep it in your possession. They will have to ask you for it and you can accurately monitor the amount of time that they are using it.
The best way to limit media time for a child is to not allow them to form these habits to begin with. By encouraging kids to spend time playing with toys or playing outside, they will keep their mind off of the devices. Remember, kids learn their behaviors from their parents, so try and set a good example and limit your screen time as well while the kids are awake.