Tips to Manage Your Child’s Screen Time This Summer
Family & Internet Blog | MATE | 19 December 2022
School holidays are here, which means it’s time for the kids to kick back, relax and have some fun! Whether they’re scrolling TikTok, catching up on TV shows or playing video games, there’s no doubt that a big chunk of their free time will be spent in front of the screen.
As fun as it may be, excess screen time isn’t always the best for kids and teens, but there are some easy ways for you to keep it under control.
Managing screen time right during the summer days
1. Set priorities to limit screen time
Imposing screen time limits without clear guidelines might seem like you’re just monitoring your kids’ minutes. No matter their age, kids and teens may find it intrusive. Be clear about what you expect from them so they can get a better perspective on your decision. For example, you can tell them to help with chores or spend an hour outside before turning on the telly.
Setting screen time rules can be a useful way to manage how much time kids spend watching TV or playing on their phones or iPads. To set solid guidelines, find out what they like doing on their phones (eg. watch YouTube videos or text friends) and build your rules around them.
Remember, not all screen time is purely for fun and consumption (active screen time). There are shows, apps and videos that promote learning (passive screen time) that can be incorporated into their rules.
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|Parental alert: One study shows that kids aged 4-5 consume more than two hours of screen media per weekday. By the time they reach 12, this number has gone up to more than three hours.|
2. Don’t treat screen time as a reward or a punishment
It’s easy to do, but don’t fall into the trap of using kids’ screen time as a reward (or punishment) for their behaviour. This sends a wrong signal, putting greater value on screen time and making your child want more of it.
3. Keep meals and bedtime device-free
Time at the table is great for quality time with the whole family—free of devices and distractions. Setting screen-time boundaries with your kids will let you all connect better in those important moments of the day. For younger kids, this also gives them a chance to focus on the food they’re eating.
Older children and teenagers can spend hours on end with their gadgets. They might get too engrossed when they play video games, chat with friends or watch videos, causing them to stay up all night. Lack of sleep has been proven to cause health and behavioural problems, so it’s best to keep digital devices out of the bedroom.
4. Set a good example
Take a step back and assess how you manage screen time. You might be tempted to check your phone often while sitting at the dinner table. But think about it: this is the perfect time to show your kids how much fun they can have without being glued to their device. The best that can happen is for everyone in the house to have healthy screen-time habits!
5. Leverage your tech options
Do you know that technology can support your cause and help screen the media they consume? You can use the parental controls in your streaming service to make sure your kids can’t access inappropriate content. Some tablets have a guided access feature, which enables you to restrict their use to specific apps.
Most devices even have timer options, meaning your kids can get locked out of an app (or device) entirely when they’ve gone over their allocated time, or it gets to a certain time of the day. This makes it easy to ensure that your kids are keeping to automatic schedules and limiting how much screen time they spend.
If your child is often on social media, platforms like Facebook have security and privacy settings that can prevent your child from appearing in public searches, limit who can send them friend requests and more. Social media is a big part of their lives, so you want to make sure they’re safe from cyberbullying, inappropriate content and privacy breaches.
As parents, there are things you can do to manage your child’s screen time this summer. Our last piece of advice is to be consistent so that it becomes a routine you can enforce every year!