Part of the challenge in raising children in today’s world includes balancing screen time with their other activities. Most parents have to deal with taming temper tantrums and tears when they try to enforce their screen time rules. This doesn’t have to be the case especially if parents arm themselves with information about digital devices and their effects on children, as well as employ some strategies when enforcing these rules.
The trick is, to have the child develop some ‘kid control’ when it comes to screen time. Meanwhile, it’s up to us parents to have some parental control in place to limit screen time. It should be clear to the kids that if they want to use their computer again, they should comply when they’re asked to take time off the computer. Be firm with the limit and don’t be swayed by iPad tantrums.
Screen Time According to Age
Time a child needs for the use of a digital device depends on their age. Other factors such as family preferences, time spent watching TV, school and outdoor activities, and behavior are also taken into consideration by some parents when they decide how much time their kids should spend in front of their ipad – tablet.
Infants’ exposure to digital devices needs to be minimum. For this age group, 10 to 15 minutes is the advised maximum time spent in front of a computer or mobile device screen.
- Toddlers and Preschoolers
A variety of physical and outdoor activities have more positive impact on the growth and learning process of toddlers and preschoolers. Thus, 30 minutes of supervised computer time should be more than enough.
- Grade School
A maximum of 30 to 45 minutes of computer time on top of important school assignments or projects should suffice for this age group.
- Middle School
An hour during weekdays and perhaps a bit longer than that during weekends is suggested for those in junior high or middle school. Additional time on the computer is fine if they need it for a school activity or project.
- High School
A maximum of two hours a day of screen time with some hours added for homework or online learning gets suggested for high school students.
Enforcing the Time Limit
It is necessary to build a relationship where trust and communication are important while kids are still young. Especially it is of utmost importance, when it comes to their computer habits, as this will help both parents and children later on as they grow older.
Here are some tips to help you in enforcing these time limits…
- Allow children to learn that balancing screen time on their own is as much their responsibility as it is for their parents to enforce.
- Get familiar with your iPad, tablet or computer’s – parental controls time limits that are available in the software. Aside from letting you create user profiles for each member of the family using the computer, these controls also let parents set the time for computer use.
- Explore options which shut off the monitor to limit computer use. However, this might be left as a last resort option since there will be no time to save whatever you’re doing.
- Use a timer, especially one that shows the remaining time.
- Instead of an alarm, you can make a playlist of your children’s favorite songs that is equal to the amount of screen time they get. When the music stops, they’ll know their time is up.
- Go old-school with paper and pen and make a chart where the computer time gets indicated for each child. A visual reminder will help prevent arguments on whose turn it is on the computer.
- Minutes before their time is up, let the kids know how much time they have left. You will find that managing their expectations is an easier task compared to taming temper tantrums. Timers and clocks are also helpful visual clues, especially for younger kids.
- Set a reasonable time with the ipad for kids to know what to expect, especially if they are doing an activity that is relevant to their school work. This will prevent frustration from not being able to finish a game or assignment because they have already reached their limit.
Knowing when to be flexible is an important skill when raising children. Allow for some flexibility such as letting them carry over unused computer time to a day when they want to spend more time on the computer on the weekend. Older kids will appreciate this especially if they have a favorite game that they want to devote more time on.