Too much screen time can increase the risk of developing lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity. Excessive screen time has also been linked to reduced quality of sleep and depression resulting from loneliness. With the advancement in technology, digital devices have been available now more than ever. Therefore, it is easy for both parents and kids to stay glued to the screen the better part of the day.
Since too much screen time is detrimental to kids' health, there is a need to manage screen time. This is to ensure that they are consuming just enough of what they should. Here are some tips to guide you on screen time management.
1. Practice positive screen time
One of the best ways to manage screen time is by ensuring that it is productive. There are tons of beginner coding tutorials for kids that they can spend time watching. Turn screen time into learning time, and you will have added value to the lives of your kids.
Instead of getting hooked to programs, they will appreciate learning how to code and even creating games of their own. Look for apps for computer coding for kids and ones that will teach them coding, and they will not look back.
2. Have a media plan
Everyone is resistant to change and bombarding your kids with news that they will not be spending as much time on TV as they will not be received kindly. Prepare them psychologically by having a media plan in advance, and better still, make them part of decision making.
This will help you a great deal in ensuring that they stick to the plan. Call for a family meeting and come to an agreement on how much time will be spent on the screen, and set rules around that. Kids are more responsive to rules when they are part of formulating them.
3. Pick good content
Ensuring that your kids are spending time on the right things is a critical part of screen time management. Find programs that align with family values and ones with characters that your kids can emulate. Choose family-friendly programs and avoid ones that focus on violence, unacceptable language, and other controversial topics.
Note that kids often project what their minds have been fed, and therefore you want their time on the screen to reflect positively on their lives. For instance, scratch programming content would be useful for kids in STEM and provide them with guidance for beginner coding.
4. Keep screen time off limits during mealtime
If you can control screen time during mealtime, then you will have no problem doing so the rest of the time. Mealtime is when the family gets to bond, and people’s etiquettes are put to the test.
Therefore, you want this time to be focused on holding conversations with the family and knowing how everybody’s day went, and practice etiquette. During mealtime, screen time has been linked to poor eating habits whereby the kids can either overeat or under eat since they are not so aware of everything else going on around them.
5. Let your kids access the screen when you are around
Well, it may not be entirely possible for your kids to access their smartphones only when you are around. However, ensure that you are there from time to time in the course of their screen time. Why is it important? Kids are still learning, and sometimes they may miss capturing important values highlighted in the programs they watch.
If they are watching computer coding for children content, you can help them in areas that they need assistance.
By being present during the time, you ensure that everything essential is captured and emphasized, and you also provide guidance in areas that the kids may need help with. Being available also sees to it that kids are spending screen time on good content. You can dismiss the programs that you consider not aligning with your values, and you may accept the ones that you feel will be beneficial to the kids, like ones that have something like ‘learn to code for kids’ to benefit their K12 STEM education
When setting a media plan, be clear with the kids regarding the screen-free time in your home. It could be an hour before they retire, the weekends, or early in the morning before their day starts. Different schedules work for other families, and you need to look for what works best for you.
Screen time can make or break kids. If it is excessive, there is a threat of developing depression. If used on the right content, you can even build their careers. Talk to your kids about healthy screen use and its importance, and they will abide by that. Also, encourage them to spend time on valuable content like computer science education for kids.