In the digital age, most people spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens. From phones to computers to televisions, society has come to fully embrace 24/7 screen time over the last decade. As a result, people often feel an inherent need to be “plugged in,” with the absence of internet-enabled devices triggering withdrawal-like symptoms in some individuals. Unsurprisingly, becoming addicted to screen time in one’s formative years can result in stunted social skills and a general disinterest in face-to-face interaction. With this in mind, parents would be wise to impose limits on the amount of time their children spend in front of screens.
Lead by Example
Screen addiction is far from a problem experienced exclusively by children. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find an adult whose attention isn’t perpetually captured by various screens. Since young children often emulate behavior observed in their caregivers, it behooves responsible parents to set a good example. While it’s important for children to understand that parents are in charge, it’s also somewhat hypocritical to prohibit them from engaging in behavior that you’re constantly engaging in.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is not a good governing principle when it comes to parenting, so in the quest to , you’re going to have to make some sacrifices of your own. For example, you could implement a daily period of screen-free time that the entire family must abide by. If your kids see you following the rules you set, they’re more likely to accept them without complaint. Additionally, you may soon discover that you needed a screen hiatus just as much as your little ones.
Create Designated Screen-free Zones
Children growing up in the digital age should understand that there are appropriate times and places for device usage. In the absence of such guidance, kids are liable to grow up thinking that pulling out their phones in the middle of formal events or business meetings is socially acceptable behavior. To show your children that this is not the case, . Since meal times tend to be the only times many families gather in one place, consider banning screens from the kitchen and/or dining room. If your children frequently violate this rule, collect their devices at the beginning of every meal and abstain from returning them until everyone has finished eating.
Provide Your Kids With Enjoyable Alternatives
Some children live their lives through various devices because they don’t think they have any alternative. So if you’re going to ask your kids to limit their screen time, you should also point them in the direction of other enjoyable hobbies and pastimes. For example, if there are any sports your children show an affinity for, encourage them to try out for teams. Additionally, if your children don’t spend much time outside, introduce them to the wonders of the great outdoors through family hikes or camping excursions. You’re likely to encounter a fair amount of pushback at first, but as your kids ease into their new routine, their protests should gradually wind down.
Don’t Be Afraid to Lay Down the Law
No parent relishes disciplining their children, but in many instances, are needed to get kids to follow rules. If your little ones see that their actions carry no discernible consequences, they’re likely to thumb their noses at any rules they don’t agree with. That being the case, don’t be afraid to lay down the law if your kids are found to be in frequent violation of rules relating to screen time. This means confiscating devices and placing even stricter limits on the screen time of offending parties.
When it feels like the entire world is constantly staring at screens, limiting the amount of time your children spend with their electronics can seem like an uphill battle. With phones, tablets and gaming consoles offering up a plethora of engaging entertainment options, many kids see little incentive in pulling themselves away from their favorite devices. Fortunately, there are many ways for parents to help their little ones appreciate the world beyond their screens. With the help of the previously discussed pointers, you can place limits on your children’s screen time in a timely and effective manner.