Let’s talk addiction and screen time. Now we don’t use the word lightly, but if you’re like most people, then your personal smart device is a big part of your everyday life. And you’d be lost without it. “They” (being developers) have even come out with self-monitoring tools that make us put our phones down – because admittedly, it’s a REALLY hard thing to do. So, if you’re “addicted” to your phone, imagine how easy it is for kids to follow in the same path.
Most of us know we probably use our phones a bit more than we should, but how do we ensure the next generation grow up with healthy screen time habits?
Unfortunately for parents, we have to compete with the big tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, who are constantly on the search for new ways to get users hooked on their apps and websites.
So with this in mind, we’ve compiled our top tips to help lead the way for your kids for healthy screen habits whilst embracing technology. In no particular order:
1. Educate yourself on the current technology – You can do this by checking out our article about Teenagers and chat sites: How parents can keep up… This will ensure you are up to date and can talk to them about their online activity in an informed way.
2.Talk to your children about their screen use – It is crucial that you have an open line of communication with your kids. Discuss the consequences of abusing technology. In the future this will encourage your children to feel comfortable to consult you, about issues they run into online.
3. Set limits on technology use for your kids – Instead of using technology, try to encourage your kids to interact with the real world and people. Organise a trip to your local pool, a family board game night, or seeing the grandparents. All these activities can help motivate your child (and YOU) to lay off the screens for a while. Who knows, your kids might even learn to connect and enjoy themselves!
4. Have technology free zones – Kids should have areas where they don’t use technology. Technology free zones could include the kitchen, bathroom and most importantly bedroom. Having areas where kids are not allowed to use technology, can help assist in setting boundaries and encouraging other activities.
5. Set limits for yourself – Recent studies have shown that kids watch how adults use technology. Are you ever on your phone in bed before you go to sleep? Or at the dinner table? If so, your kids are probably aware and learning their screen habits from you. We recommend setting some boundaries for yourself and your screen time. When you are at home with your family try disconnecting from those work calls and emails. You can deal with them in the morning!
6. Kids should have set times where they switch off from technology – Some technology free times could include dinner time, bedtime or during homework. This gives your child a break from technology and helps them focus on the task at hand.
7. Use parental controls – As we know it is hard as parents to control and manage our kids screen time. Parents want assistance from the major tech companies to make changes that reduce the amount children use their products. FamilyEye by Yomojo allows parents to manage children’s social media usage, control website usage, adjust app restrictions and track location. You can check more information about FamilyEye here.
8. Let your kids learn to manage their own screen time – This may seem counterproductive, but what you may not know is that your kids are already learning to manage their screen time. A recent study found that 50% of kids feel addicted to their mobile devices, which means they are self-aware of the issue and this is a first step in combating screen addiction.
Here’s to parenting in the technological age…