I recently spent some time with two families who both have a three-year-old son. The little boys were darling… until they demanded their iPad, or their ‘puter, as they call it (short for computer — they pronounce it “pooter”). “I want my ‘puter!” they screamed. “He has my ‘puter!” they’d yell when someone took their iPad. The parents would sigh and say things like, “I knew we shouldn’t have brought his iPad,” and then gave into their screaming children.
Study after study is finding that kids who are on their screens a lot — more than two hours a day — lose the ability to focus on what’s important, a skill vitally important in school work and on the job. They lose emotional skills and social skills. They become vulnerable to online addictions like gambling and pornography.
And believe me, I know it’s a whole lot easier to just give them the ‘puter to keep them quiet or get them to stop begging. Many a time I’ve caved to my 11-year-old after he’s bartered, bargained, and badgered me for “just five more minutes” of screen time.
So take a look at these 5 screen time rules you must have, and tell me how you’re doing when it comes to limiting your kids’ screen time.
1. Screen Time is a Privilege.
Computers can be taken away. TVs can be turned off. Cell phones can be confiscated. Help your children understand that screen time is a privilege that is given by mom and dad as they see fit. So be bold about limiting screen time, especially for children younger than two.
2. Screen Time is a Choice.
Screen time should not be the automatic default when the kids are bored, noisy, or in your hair. Decide how much time you want your child to have each day for screen time and stick to it.
Screen time should not be the automatic default when the kids are bored, noisy, or in your hair.
3. Screen Time Doesn’t Mix with Company.
When guests come to your house, the screens get turned off. When you’re out to eat as a family, the screens are turned off.
4. Screen Time Is Not Private.
Mom and dad have 100 percent access to all screen activity. That means texts can be read, Internet surfing will be monitored, and TV shows are approved by mom and dad.
5. Screen Time Has No Place at the Table.
Mealtimes are for conversation, checking in, sharing family stories, and the teaching of manners and social skills. Screen time is a road block to all of that. Here are 4 no media zones to set up at your house.
Ready to move forward with these rules?
If you need a hand in enforcing, reminding, or motivating, we have plenty of great resources for you. Our Screen Time Tracker will help everyone in the family keep tabs on just how long their eyes are locked on one of those shiny rectangles. Because after all, knowing is half the battle! If screen time is the carrot you want to dangle in front of your kids try our If…Then printable, or our Screen Time Tickets. You can also use the tickets as a way to ration time. And if you’ve decided your child is responsible enough to take the next step, our Cell Phone Contract and Social Media Contract make your expectations (and the consequences if they don’t meet them) crystal clear.
Let’s Talk: Do you have a hard time keeping your kids away from screens?