Some kids want to spend all day playing video games, watching TV, or talking and texting their friends. THAT ISN’T REAL LIFE!! You need to limit screen time!
Once your child has reached the age where screen time is not only valuable, but almost unavoidable, your child may have his own phone, may be doing schoolwork and/or homework on a computer or tablet, and all his friends will be gaming. I am not recommending you throw in the towel, because the evidence that violence on TV, in video games, and in song lyrics make children more likely to act out in aggressive ways remains true. Instead, I recommend you develop a Family Media Plan.
Here are some recommendations to limit screen time:
- Establish some screen-free zones, like the kitchen, dining room, and your child’s bedroom, where no incoming messages can interrupt her sleep.
- Charge ALL devices (including yours) overnight in a specific place away from the bedrooms.
- Do not use devices: when crossing the street, at school, during homework, in the car (except on long trips), at mealtimes, during designated family times, 1/2 hour before bed (blue light from the screen interferes with sound sleep),
- Install a security code on all devices to prevent unauthorized downloading of apps and making of purchases.
- Activate parental control functions.
Turn on the GPS locator, primarily to find a lost phone, but also to find a lost child.
Please understand that tech giants spend millions of dollars making their programs and apps more and more addicting. Some psychologists have even called social media a drug because of the way technology companies have engineered their services to take advantage of subconscious human weaknesses to achieve their own corporate goals of keeping your attention. I highly recommend keeping your child off social media until at least high school. You will probably get a lot of complaints because all his friends will be on social media, but there are real risks to young, not-yet-developed minds. It is a good idea to establish rules and limitations when your child first gets a phone, instead of later. It is always harder to take away something that has been allowed, than to live without something you have never had.
You can get more details and advice on how to limit screen time and handling the challenges all parents face in the war between screen time and real life by clicking here to see your options.