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Setting screen time rules for your child isn’t easy.
The digital world offers unparalleled access to information, the ability to connect with friends and far-flung relatives, plus innovative opportunities for learning.
Yet there is also a dark side. Underdeveloped communication skills, shrinking attention spans and damage to physical health are all linked to too much screen time for kids.
Is your child glued to their mobile device? Here CashLady looks at how to set screen time rules that stick.
The importance of screen time rules for kids
Earlier this summer a panel of medics from the American Heart Association advised parents to limit kids to a maximum of two hours screen time per day.
The panel based their advice on existing studies on-screen use and health, finding that children aged eight to 18 now spend more than seven hours a day staring at a screen.
Time staring at a TV screen is apparently dwindling, replaced by looking at phones, tablets and computers for social media, watching videos, playing games and browsing the internet.
The dangers of too much screen time
Up to seven hours spent staring at screens every day means children are increasingly leading sedentary lives, which raises the risk of obesity, heart attack and strokes.
Worryingly, increased screen time is also harming their sleep and stalling their development.
Children are missing out on essential social and communication skills, which are picked up from real life human interactions with their peers.
Setting screen time rules that stick
Limiting screen time is clearly essential. Setting any type of rules that stick, however, is always challenging but it’s particularly difficult with mobile devices.
Clare James, a psychotherapist for Natural Nurture Nursery Coach told Coach Magazine, that screen time rules are less likely to be met with tantrums if they,’ come from a place of abundance rather than limitation.’
A great way to implement this, she suggests, is introducing the concept of screen time rules in a positive way, instead of highlighting the negative.
For example, instead of saying “you can only have an hour today”, say “you can have two half-hour sessions, isn’t that great?”
Below we look at what other steps the whole family can take to set screen time rules that will go the distance and potentially make your child both happier and healthier.
Leading by example
The problem with setting screen time rules is that it’s not just children who are addicted to looking at their mobile devices.
Key to encouraging a healthier attitude around mobile devices is encouraging everybody in the household, including parents, to cut back on their use.
It’s unlikely that your child will take your screen time rules seriously if you try to limit their screen time while remaining glued to your phone or tablet.
Setting household rules around mobile devices
A great way to limit screen time for everyone is by setting clear household rules about where and when mobile devices can be used.
Along with incorporating the two-hour usage limit, consider banning screens at the dinner table and in bedrooms at all times.
The blue light emitted from mobile devices has been shown to harm sleep patterns and so bedrooms free from screens are far healthier for both children and adults.
Monitoring screen time
A structured approach to screen time will lead to less frustration and flouting of the rules.
Try segmenting your child’s screen time into twenty-minute sections.
Put on a timer and clearly explain to your child that they will have twenty minutes of screen time and that afterwards, they are going to do a different activity or get ready for bed.
Laying out a clear and regular screen time regime will help set boundaries and create habits that stick.
Plan daily family activities
Keeping the family active is hugely beneficial for fitness and health and so try to plan a family activity each day.
Keeping your child away from screens, a joint activity will encourage them to form healthier habits and even create a tighter family bond.
From swimming to jogging, walking the dog or tennis lessons there’s plenty of activities out there to keep everyone entertained.