Children have been on their devices for more than a year and a half for distance learning, staying connected to friends and family, and for entertainment -- but with in-person school approaching and hopefully a return to more normal daily routines, how can parents help their kids cut down on their screen time?
HuffPo reports time spent on devices doubled during the pandemic and some are worried about an upcoming “period of epic withdrawal” from devices. If your child needs to reduce the amount of time they spend looking at their tablet, phone, or computer, the experts suggest these strategies:
Consider What They Are Watching and What It’s Taking the Place Of: Are they using their devices to keep themself entertained because you need to work? Are devices taking the place of getting outside, playing with other friends, or in the way of learning? The experts say parents need to weigh how device time might be beneficial and compare to what your child may be missing out on while glued to their tablet. Setting and sticking to limits works best, say HuffPo's experts, and they remind parents when you start to cut down their screen time it might lead to some protesting, arguments, and tears -- but stick to your limits.
Replace Device Time with Playtime: When the devices get put away, make sure to create new opportunities to play and engage with the child. The Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests, “Carve out time specifically dedicated to play. Plan activities that incorporate different types of play, including board games, balls, blocks, and role play.”
Prep Your Child Ahead of Time: A little warning can go a long way for a child and the Child Mind Institute notes, "Having a predictable structure in place can be reassuring and helpful even for older kids (and adults!).” The experts suggest telling your kid something like "In 10 minutes, we’re going to turn the TV off and then do XYZ," which will help them transition better from device time to something else. Also, consider incorporating the content they were watching into their playtime. "If your child is watching a cartoon, turn off the TV and encourage your child to build on the storyline themselves with toys,” the Center on Media and Child Health notes.