As with anything new, we didn’t know the good things, or problems, connected to screen time and children using technology until we had lived with it for a time. Now we know more and some research based guidelines have emerged. Wise parents are adopting these guidelines, even when their children complain, because they know that managing technology works best for everyone.
Basic Screen Time Tips
Know what your children are doing with technology at all times. Know their passwords, text patterns, contacts etc, especially with younger children. Check these things regularly and do it with your child so you can discuss what is going on.
Establish house screen time rules before you give your child a device of any kind – iPod Touch, laptop, desktop, phone, smart watch etc. Discuss these with your spouse/partner AND your children, so everyone has some input. Parents have final say.
Check In all technology at bedtime, including adults. To the charging station, on the table, NOT in the bedroom. Phones don’t make good alarm clocks for kids because the temptation to play games or go online after lights out is too hard to resist. Don’t set kids up to “hang themselves” or fail with your house rules. No TVs in the bedrooms, either.
Turn Off screens about one – two hours before you want your child to fall asleep. The blue screen light of a backlit screen (any screen that can be seen in the dark) shuts down natural melatonin production in the brain and, and, over time damages the retina.
Adjust family guidelines according to age. Know the current recommendations.
Be Aware of your child’s unique development and decide what your child is ready for and what needs to wait. All children don’t handle the same technology well at the same age. Be honest with yourself, even if your kids complain.
Don’t make screen time decisions based on what other parents are doing or when you child complains that “everyone else has ____.”
Prioritize the importance of technology use in your family. Clarify what are the most important values – school work, sleep, interaction with real people face to face? Doing this seems to really help parents decide on the best balance for their family.
Keep it simple and work with your kids so they can learn how to manage screen time successfully on their own. Independence. Always the goal!