We live in an age where technology has greatly advanced, with smartphones, tablets and television easily accessible and a regular part of life. Whilst using these devices can help promote learning and relaxation, too much time spent staring at screens is not good. It might be a challenge pulling kids away from their screens, but hopefully, these tips can help:
1. Start as Soon as Possible
The earlier you set rules, the better, as it can be harder to bring in new rules once your kids have already grown accustomed to their habits. If you make sure you have rules and limits in place as they grow up, it is much easier to make sure they don’t grow up relying on their devices. Not all tech is bad, but tablets cannot replace daily interactions.
2. Invest in Their Interests and Find New Hobbies
A great way to get your kids away from their screens is to find hobbies that they enjoy, which don’t rely heavily on screens. For example, if they enjoy playing video and computer games, introduce them to tabletop games. There are lots of great board games and card games they could enjoy, try to find ones that are good for their age and that you would enjoy playing with them. You can also find ways to turn the shows they watch into off-screen entertainment. This could be toys or even collectible figurines of their favorite tv or film characters such as Nendoroids, and you can buy or pre-order them online.
3. Keep Computers and TVs in Shared Spaces
Older kids and teenagers will want some privacy so this one doesn’t apply to them, though you should make sure they understand online safety and are well informed. For younger kids, however, it is important that you can monitor what they watch and do online, to make sure it is age-appropriate.
4. Don’t Give Them Their Own Phones and Tablets
Young kids do not need their own phones and tablets. Have a family device set up so that apps can only be installed with your approval. This way, you can do your research on apps that will be engaging and beneficial to them. There are lots of apps designed to be both entertaining and educational and these are the ones they should be playing on.
5. Set Limits and Times
It is always a good idea to have limits on device-usage. This can include down time before bed, as blue light is known to have negative effects on sleep. You can also have tech-free family time, where you do things as a family like eating dinner together, without them being glued to tablet and phone screens. Be clear and consistent, but also explain why you are setting rules. It might be trickier getting older kids to cut down on screen time, try to have a conversation about the negative effects screen-time has and how you should both work on reducing screen time. Allow them to negotiate and listen to their opinions so that you can agree on limits together as grown-ups.
6. Make Sure You Set a Good Example
Make sure that you aren’t guilty of spending too much time looking at your phone too. Kids will instantly pick up on this and it will make the rules seem unfair. Limiting your own screen-time will be good for you, too, so set a good example for them and reduce your own tech usage.
It might be challenging at first but making time to put down devices will mean that you can spend more quality time with each other as a family.